How to Domicile in Texas as a Full-Time RVer & Get Your Mail

How to Domicile in Texas as a Full-Time RVer & Get Your Mail

Well, it’s official. I’m now a Texas resident. I have a temporary driver’s license, and I also have some license plates. As a digital nomad, what state you actually hold your residency in can have an impact on your travel plans. So I’ll share with you why I decided to change my residency from Washington to Texas and explain to you that entire process about why I decided to set up my residency in Texas versus Florida or South Dakota.

Last year, I quit my job in June of 2018, so it’s been almost a year now.

This is March 2019 and because I quit my job, I no longer had health insurance except through Cobra. It’s about time that I figured out what state I need to domicile in so that I could get health insurance. One of the things that I need as a full time traveling, digital nomad, is a nationwide health insurance plan.

As a Washington state resident, they don’t actually offer a national health insurance plan. So I needed to change my domicile to one of three states.

There’s South Dakota, Florida, and Texas.

Those are three states that are actually really great for RVers because they don’t have a state income tax. Just in general, they’re a little bit more RV friendly. Some of the fees for registering your RV is a little cheaper there as well.

Why I Chose to Domicile in Texas

Texas

At first, I thought I was going to domicile in Florida because they had a nationwide health insurance plan. But this year in 2019, Texas actually offered a nationwide health insurance plan, so I decided on Texas instead.

I’ll most likely be closer to Texas than I would Florida most of the year, so Texas just also seems to be more advantageous for that. Plus I have family there so I’ll be in Texas a little bit more.

Also, the requirement with Texas car inspections is they do require inspections every so often, but if you’re not in the state, you don’t have to go back to get that inspection until you actually get back into the state. Then you have about three days to get your RV or your car inspected as soon as you get back into the state. That’s another reason why I chose Texas because I wouldn’t have to go back quickly to get my car inspected every so often.

In other words, I really don’t have to go back to Texas very often unless I want to see my family of course. But there’s no real legal reason why I need to go back, which is why I decided on Texas, oh and the ability to get on a nationwide health insurance plan.

It was a fairly easy process to get domiciled in Texas, but you need to know the requirements and step-by-step process.

Step-by-Step Process to Domiciling in Texas

There are four things that you need to do to get domiciled in Texas and you need to accomplish it in this order:

  • The first one is you need to establish an address in Texas.
  • The second thing is you need to get your RV inspected.
  • The third thing is you need to get your RV registered.
  • The fourth thing you need to do is actually get your driver’s license.

I’m part of a club called Escapees and there’s a subgroup called Xscapers that you might’ve seen me talk about every once in a while. They have a really great online program that shows you how you can domicile in Texas, South Dakota or Florida. But because I chose Texas, we’re going to look at Texas today. You just go to their website and you can see the checklist has all of the information on what you need to do to get domiciled in Texas so that’s how I started my process.

Escapees

Establishing an Address in Texas with a Mail Forwarding Company

The first thing you need to do is get an address in Texas.

Now for me, I do have family in Texas, but I don’t want to burden them with having to get my mail and send it to me.

So I chose to get a mailbox with the Escapees group that offers a mail forwarding service. I began the process about six months ago in anticipation that I was going to be changing my domicile. Now, it doesn’t take that long to get an address, really just a couple of days.

Mail forwarding service

So here’s what I did.

I established that address about six months ago in Texas through the Escapees group. Then I drove all the way to Texas because I was going to be there to see family anyway, and decided this was a good time for me to go ahead and get domiciled.

Getting Your RV Inspected in Texas

The second thing you need to do is get your vehicle inspected. If you go to the Texas DOT website, you will find a list of places where you can actually get your RV inspected.

Pick out a place that’s close to you, wherever that may be anywhere in Texas. Then you’ll go to that particular facility to get your RV inspected to make sure it passes the Texas inspection test. 

Thankfully I passed – I mean the RV is only 1 year old so it shouldn’t have been a problem. It cost $25.50 to have my RV inspected.

Then you’ll need to take that RV inspection document to the tax county office to get your car registered along with the required documents for registration.

Getting Your RV Registered in Texas

Then you’ll want to do the application for the registration, preferably online, to help facilitate time and just make it a little bit more efficient before heading into their office.

Documents for RV Registration

You’ll need the following documents before heading over to the local county tax office:

  • Obtain RV inspection
  • Proof of inspection
  • Proof of insurance
  • Provide current proof of registration
  • Provide proof of unloaded weight of RV
  • Photo of the exterior of RV
  • Possibly bill of sale depending on when you purchased it
  • Application for title

There’s an application for title that you’ll need to fill out as well called Form 130-U.

You’ll take your application for registration to the Texas county tax office along with the other items they will want to see.

They also want an actual physical picture of your RV so they can make sure that they know what they’re actually registering, and provide them with the registration from the state that you came from.

My registration was from New Mexico, so I provided them with the registration from that state.

You need to know what your unloaded weight is of your vehicle because they do charge you based on the unloaded weight. My unloaded weight was on my New Mexico registration, so I used that, which was 7,700 pounds. You can also find your unloaded weight on a spec sheet or something like that that you have for your RV. But it’s probably going to be on some kind of registration document that you originally filled out.

You need to show proof of insurance. I obtained my Texas insurance after switching from Washington which ended up being $400 more expensive in Texas than it was in Washington. So obviously this is going to be different for everybody based on what insurance you had and what state you were actually registered in.

I provided all of those documents to them along with my ID and received my plates right there on the spot.

They also provide you with a registration sticker that you need to put on your front window.

That was really it. It took maybe 15 minutes in order to get all of that taken care of. So not a long time at all.

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Getting Your Texas Drivers License

Then I came over to the Texas driver’s safety office in order to get my driver’s license. That one took a little bit longer because there was a line for that, but I already had all of my documentation ready.

There is a nice checklist that they have online. In order to get your driver’s license, all you need to do is fill out the application. Then you need to be able to prove who you are and the address that you’re giving to them is actually your address.

Make sure to bring in further documentation, which is in the checklist. I would probably bring in a little more than you actually need just in case.

I would hate it if I came in and they had decided that they weren’t accepting that proof of residency anymore. So I brought in a bank statement. I brought in my insurance that I changed to yesterday and that has my new address on it. I brought in my new registration that also had my new address on it.

You can also watch the video as a supplement:

How to Domicile in Texas

Documents for Texas Drivers License

You’ll need the following documents before heading over to the Texas Department of Safety:

  • Application
  • Current drivers license
  • Vehicle registration
  • Passport or other forms of identification to prove US citizenship
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof of Residency documents like RV insurance, 1099s, W-2s, bank statements (click here for full list)

You’ll be able to find all the documentation in the checklist that you can bring to prove that address.

You’ll also need your current driver’s license and you need to make sure it’s current and not expired.

You’ll also need another proof of who you are. So I brought in my passport. You can use a passport card if you want, but I used my passport. Then they also ask for your social security number or some proof of your social security number. I had my social security card so I just used that.

Then I brought it into the office. I showed them all of my documentation. I didn’t have to do a driver’s test or take a written test thankfully. They just completed all of the paperwork right there.

I had to record two electronic thumbprints and a signature. I also had to do a quick little eye exam because I do wear eyeglasses and then they took my picture. Then they give you a temporary license until you get your new permanent one in the mail.

What’s funny about the driver’s license number they gave me is that it’s my old driver’s license number from when I was 16 years old. I’m apparently still in the system, so they gave me the same number.

How Long Did It Take to Domicile in Texas

The day before I did the inspection is the day that I got all of my paperwork together and used as my day to research everything. So from beginning to end, it took me about 2.5 hours to figure out all the documents that I needed, put them all on a thumb drive and then go to the UPS Store to get printed so that I had everything ready to go and all I needed then is to sign off on all documents in front of them in their presence.

  • 2.5 hours for research and paperwork
  • 30 minutes for inspection
  • .25 hours for registration
  • 2 hours for a drivers license (only because there was a line)

Now, of course, that doesn’t count drive time to Texas, but as you can see, once you get all of your documentation together, it does not take very long at all to do this process.

One of the reasons why I decided on Texas was because of the nationwide health insurance plan.

So I’m curious if you’re needing health insurance as a digital nomad, how have you gone about getting the insurance? Leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear how you’re getting insurance. Or if you have insurance at all, have you opted to just not have insurance?

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

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Drive to Mexico | Travel MUSTS for Visa, Pets, Insurance, RV & Car

Drive to Mexico | Travel MUSTS for Visa, Pets, Insurance, RV & Car

Travel Mexico in Your RVTraveling to Mexico in your RV can seem daunting, especially for the first time. So, I’m going to take the mystery out of crossing the border and give you some easy steps that you can follow so you can get on your way to that sandy beach in Mexico. Under the sun, soaking up the rays, maybe a little cold beverage with some fruit around the side. An umbrella, perhaps, and a straw, or you could just keep it simple and drink some cerveza. 

Today I’m going to give you the seven must-haves when traveling across the border to Mexico in your RV or your car, if you’re going to vacation over there. Especially if you’re going to be there for over seven days and you’re traveling with pets.

Now, I’ll tell you. When I first thought about traveling to Mexico, even in a caravan with my Xscapers group, it felt a little bit daunting to figure out all of the requirements to get across the border. One of my number one fears was traveling to Mexico was insurance.

Thinking about the requirements for having insurance in Mexico and making sure that my RV was covered and safe worried me – and what if I was in an accident and it was my fault would the other person’s vehicle be covered?

Get your FREE Mexico Travel Checklist so you can print out and check off each item as your prepare for your trip. I make it so easy for you with the printable checklist with tips and recommendations so you don’t have to go through the worry that I did with researching and filling out forms.

Watch the video for more tips and details: https://youtu.be/NUPqroOWWKg

7 Mexican Border Crossing Musts

#1 Purchase Mexico Vehicle Insurance

The number one must have and my number one fear in going to Mexico is vehicle insurance. I actually went with a company called Sanborn Insurance. 

insurance

The reason why you want to get Mexican insurance is because Mexico does not recognize U.S. insurance. Even if your RV or your car is covered in the United States, you’ll need to get insurance in Mexico because if you get in an accident and you don’t have insurance you could potentially be taken to jail for it or cited and ticketed.

So, you want to make sure you have Mexico insurance.

I’m with Progressive Insurance for my Hymer Aktiv van. I knew I was covered in Mexico but I didn’t know to what extent. So, I made sure that if I was in an accident that my vehicle would be covered and the other vehicle would be covered as well.

I wanted to find out what would happen if I did get in an accident and what would I need to do. So, I called Progressive to find out.

What Progressive told me is that if I was in an accident and my vehicle was incapable of driving that my insurance would cover a tow back to the United States so that it could get repaired. They would not cover any charges to repair it in Mexico. So, because Mexico does not recognize United States insurance, you need to get Mexico insurance.

Since I was completely covered in Mexico on Progressive, I decided to only get liability in Mexico to satisfy Mexican law. I also made sure that that Mexico insurance had roadside assistance even though I had roadside assistance on my Progressive Insurance.

I thought it might be a little bit easier to have roadside assistance in Mexico on Mexico insurance should I possibly need it. So, I went ahead and got that as well.

Now, I was in Mexico for 10 full days and because I’m in a van and I’m potentially going to drive that van around for all of those 10 days, or some of those 10 days, I decided to get insurance for all 10 days while I was there.

If you have a tow vehicle, if you’re in a trailer and you have a truck, you potentially don’t need to have insurance on your trailer for all days that you’re going to be there. You can just get your trailer covered for the days that you’re driving into Mexico and driving out of Mexico. But then only cover your truck for all of the days.

Since you’re going to be driving your truck around Mexico potentially on all days – since it’s your main transportation – you want to make sure that it’s completely covered on all days that you’re there. Then you only have to cover your trailer for the days that you’re actually driving with the trailer in and out of Mexico.

I went ahead and covered my vehicle for 10 days, full liability. Just to give you some basis of cost, it was $75 for me. That’s going to vary, depending on what kind of coverage that you want to get with Sanborn.

Number one, make sure you get insurance. They might check it at the border as well, so make sure you have that before you cross the border.

#2 Traveling with Pets to Mexico

The second thing you need to have, if you have pets, is you need to make sure that you have their rabies vaccination and a health certificate.

The health certificate must be signed by a licensed veterinarian and within 15 days of traveling into Mexico.

Now, I will tell you I’ve been to Mexico twice with my pet. One walking into Mexico through Los Algodones – just south of Yuma, AZ – with my dog Lily and they never asked me for that information even though I did carry it on me.

When I traveled in my RV to Mexico, they also did not ask me for that information but I wouldn’t go over there without it, just in case you do get asked. You definitely do not want to get to the border and then all of a sudden not be able to get your pet over the border.

That would put a huge damper in your vacation plans and nobody wants that. Make sure you have the health certificate and the rabies vaccination with you.

#3 Mexico Travel Tourist Visa

The third thing that you need in order to cross the border into Mexico is something called an FMM. You need an FMM no matter how many days you are traveling in Mexico; however if it’s 7 days or under, it’s free. If you’re staying 8 or more days then there’s a fee, but it’s pretty small. I was there for 10 days and paid around $30.

Mexico FMMWhat is an FMM?

An FMM is basically short for a tourist visa. I was there for 10 days so I did need to fill it out. It’s a really pretty easy form to fill out and I went online to complete it.

I’ll give you a little tip here, make sure you use something like Google Chrome that has a translate button on it because the first part of filling out the form is in English, but when you get to the payment section, it wasn’t in English at all and I had no idea what it said. I had to hit the Google Translate button and even then it did not completely translate everything.

Especially if it was a picture on the webpage and the picture had a word that was in Spanish. It wouldn’t translate a picture, it only translates text.

I did go into online to Google Translate, take the word that was in the picture and type it into Google Translate, then it would translate it into English. It’s really not a big deal, just make sure you have that Google Translate on, or, if you know Spanish, you’re a little bit ahead of where I was with that.

It’s very easy to fill out online. It’s basically just going to ask you, what is your entry point into Mexico. We were entering from El Centro, California, into Mexicali.

There’s a little drop down for choosing your entry point and you just would choose Mexicali or wherever you’re going to cross the border.

You’re going to put the date that you are crossing the border into Mexico and then you’re also going to put the date that you’re going to depart Mexico and cross back over the border.

Now, if your departure date should change and you want to extend your stay, that’s completely fine. You don’t need to change your FMM. The FMM is actually good for 180 days. It’s just a starting point for you when you cross the border.

The other thing that you need to complete on the FMM is where you’re going to be staying. If you have an RV park, like we did, you’ll note the address of the RV park where you’ll be staying.

You’ll need to put some sort of address on there for where you’re staying in Mexico. Now, you may be hopping around Mexico and that’s completely fine, just find a place that you’re probably going to stay at some point in time and put in that address.

It asks you for some more information like your name and your passport number, so you’ll want to complete all of that.

The next think you’ll need to do is pay for the FMM. Once you get to the payment screen, you’ll put in your credit card information and then you’re going to see how much it’s going to cost you. Keep in mind that is in pesos.

It’s not dollars, so don’t freak out like I did at first. It’s around 500 pesos. When I paid for it, my credit card statement showed it was about $30 once the conversion rate was applied.

You’re going to get an email once they approve your FMM and you’ll want to click on the link inside of the email to go to the FMM form and print out your FMM. Make sure you go ahead and print two copies while you’re in there.

The other thing that you need to be aware of when filling out the FMM is that you need to make sure you fill it out within 30 days of arrival to Mexico. If you’re thinking that you want to go to Mexico in about six months – and you’re super proactive – and you want to go ahead and get your paperwork done now – WAIT!

You cannot fill it out the FMM right now and have it approved six months ahead of time. You have be within a 30 day window before you cross the border so just make sure you keep that in mind.

#4 Drivers License

The fourth thing that you’re going to need is a driver’s license. Now this may seem like a stupid thing for me to tell you but yes, you definitely need to have your driver’s license. They might check once you cross the border and you need to have a drivers license to drive in Mexico just like everywhere else.

The good thing is you don’t need an international driver’s license to cross over the border and drive into Mexico for your vacation. So, just make sure to bring your driver’s license with you.

#5 Passport

US Passport

The fifth thing that you’re going to need is a passport. You can take a passport card or you can also use your traditional passport.

Now, you cannot get into Mexico without a passport.

They no longer use a driver’s license. Maybe I’m dating myself by saying that but in the past you could get into Mexico and Canada with your U.S. driver’s license. You cannot do that now. You actually have to have a passport or the passport card.

Make sure you have that with you. They will absolutely check that at the border.

#6 Vehicle Registration & Title

The sixth thing that you’re going to need is to make sure you have your registration and or a title with you for a car to make sure that you own it and that it’s actually registered.

They may or may not look at that. In my case, I brought it with me, they did not review my documents for my RV, but you always want to make sure you have it, just in case.

You don’t want to get into Mexico or get to the border and they turn you around because you don’t have the proper identification to prove that you actually own your vehicle that you’re in.

So, make sure that you bring that with you.

#7 Duplicate Copies

The seventh thing that you’re going to need is a copy of all of the information that I referenced above.

You want to make sure you have an additional backup copy. Just in case it gets lost, or they happen to take it for some reason. Just have an additional backup so that you can have your passport number on there, your driver’s license number. Any of your pertinent information like your insurance so that you can have it handy in case it’s lost or it’s taken from you.

Preparing for Mexico Border Crossing

Before I actually got to the border, I put all of my documentation into a clear, plastic sleeve and then I kept this up in the front seat with me so that I could access it easily if I needed.

I even put my passport in there where it was right in the front. I made sure that, again, that was accessible to me in the front so that I could grab it really quickly.

When I actually got to the border, you have to park your vehicle and then go into the customs office so that you can show them your passport and show them your FMM document.

They’re going to stamp the FMM document and they’re going to, obviously, look up your passport to make sure that you’re good to go into Mexico.

One of the reasons that I made sure that everything was inside of the plastic sleeve, is that I could just grab this pouch, go into the customs office and show them all of my documentation. Hopefully, I can make the process as easy and painless as possible and, hopefully get through the border very, very quickly.

The other thing is that there’s a border agent that will want to come into your RV and inspect it.

One of the things I did before I went to the Mexico border crossing, the night before, was that I made sure that my RV was inspection-friendly.

What I mean by that is, if I open a cabinet up, is everything going to fall out of it if they open it up and inspect inside.

That happens in a van, by the way, or an RV. Things jostle around when you’re driving. So, I made sure everything was tight in there. It was not going to fall out if they went to open it and inspect it.

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I made sure that was done all throughout the RV.

Also, another thing that you want to make sure of is you are not taking anything illegal or that is prohibited into Mexico. The two number one very large things that are a no-no to take into Mexico is one, firearms. Can’t take those in guys. No firearms, no ammo.

The second one is no drugs. So, I’m talking about illegal drugs.

Seems like a no-brainer.

There are also recreational drugs, in the United States, that are legal now, like marijuana. You want to make sure that you’re not taking those over into Mexico.

It is not legal there and you will be arrested for that if it’s found. They do have drug-sniffing dogs around the border so make sure you keep that in the United States.

One thing that you can do for items that you can’t take into Mexico is to find a friend who can keep them for you. Or, just go get a storage locker and put all of that inside there.

So, you just want to make sure that everything in your RV is inspection-friendly and ready for them to board and look through. The cleaner you have it, the less things that will fall out. I feel like the easier it’s going to be on them and the easier it’s going to be on you. Just make sure that’s all set and ready to go before you get to the border.

I’m going to make this so easy for you. I’m providing a checklist that shows you exactly everything that you need to do to cross the border so make sure you click below:

What is your number one fear when thinking about traveling to Mexico? Go ahead and leave me a comment below.

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

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Camper Van WiFi & Mobile Internet On The Road As A Digital Nomad

Camper Van WiFi & Mobile Internet On The Road As A Digital Nomad

Mobile Internet on the RoadIf you’re looking to hit the road and be a digital nomad or maybe you’re just looking to binge Netflix when you get to your camping spot – then you’ll need a great cell signal for your mobile Internet.

How I stay connected on the road as a digital nomad is a hot topic and what equipment I use to make sure I have a cell signal the majority of the time.

I have multiple devices, a cell booster system, and I’ll show you how to set it all up and explain the process of how it’s connected inside and out so you can decide if this is something you’ll want in your travels.

First Method to Getting Internet on the Road

The first piece of equipment you’ll need is a hotspot like a Jetpack from Verizon. Verizon came out with the most fantastic plan yet that us digital nomads have been waiting for forever!

It’s a prepaid, unlimited, unthrottled, no cap plan. I purchased the plan to test it out, and so far it’s performing well, even in cities too where there’s more traffic congestion on the networks.

I know, amazing huh?

Make sure you watch the review and click the link to take you right to the exact place to get the plan if you’re interested. Part of my video shows how to set this plan up because most of the Verizon agents don’t know about it.

A hotspot works off your current cell phone and/or data plan. The major players in the market that have the most coverage nationwide in the United States is Verizon, #1, and AT&T, #2 as of this posting.

I have a Verizon hotspot as well as an AT&T hotspot. I like having both because sometimes AT&T is better in one area than Verizon or vice versa. My entire business and consulting practice are online, so it’s essential that I almost always have a cell signal for the Internet – unless of course I just am taking a break and need some digital downtime.

Now, in my video from last week, I talked about how I use my Verizon hotspot with a new prepaid plan so check that out. You may want to look into that because the Verizon hotspot that I was on before with my regular cell phone plan just didn’t work that well.

The hotspots will allow you to get Internet on the road, but what about when you’re in rural areas or places where the cell signal is weak?

Boosting Your Cell Signal So You Can Boondock Most Anywhere

So here’s the thing, as a digital nomad, you need to make sure you’re connected everywhere you go. I’m online 24/7, and it seems like I’m always charging my equipment, I’m always online loading videos or answering emails, social media, etc.

As a digital nomad, it’s very important that you are always online and connected. So to make that happen, I have the two hotspots with Verizon and AT&T.

The other thing that’s super important to make sure you’re connected is a cell booster. The system that I use is called a weBoost, and it is connected to an antenna on the roof that boosts the cell signal inside the van and to my devices.

Weboost antenna on Hymer aktiv camper van

weBoost Antenna and Cell Signal

The weBoost is mounted to the side of the wall under my bench seat so it’s out of the way and that is connected to AC power. To have AC Power you do need to have your inverter on to make that work properly.

The antenna that came with my weBoost is not the antenna that I’m using currently. The one that came with the system is one that you hard mount onto your van or to your RV, and I didn’t want to punch any holes in my RV, so I got the magnet instead. This antenna is one that I specifically bought because it has an earth magnet on it and is very strong so it will mount on top of the van and stay there, even if I drive with it.

I do take it on and off when I travel and then when I’m stationary I keep it up on the roof. The cable runs down the side of the van and in through the driver door, and then that connects to the weBoost inside.

That is how I stay connected to a cell booster. The cell booster, if you’re not familiar with it, will boost your signal typically when you’re going to be in rural areas or places with weak signals.

The cell towers are far and few between, more so than in an urban area, so you sometimes to boost your signal. The weBoost has helped me so many times when I’m in rural areas, and sometimes it’ll say I have no signal whatsoever or just maybe one bar and then I’ll plug it in and voila, I can sometimes get anywhere between two, three and even four bars.

That will help me to get that cell signal in those rural areas.

Hymer Aktiv Camper Van Mobile Internet on the Road

If you’re going to be doing a lot of boondocking, make sure you get some kind of a cell booster. There are different ones out there, weBoost seems to be the best one in my opinion, and so that’s the one that I went with, and it’s the first one that I bought when I started RVing.

I haven’t had any issues with it, except the fact that – oh guess what? I had a different antenna, and that antenna was just a slender antenna that had an earth magnet on it. I would put it on the top of the roof, and I could drive around a lot with that one on, but I was on the coast so much, and with all the salty air it got rusted.

So I had to replace it with the one I have now which won’t rust when exposed to the environment.

How to Set-up weBoost Inside of Van

So you have your cell booster set up now, it’s plugged in, the green light is on.

Now the green light means that it is getting a signal from the antenna on top of the roof and that it’s working properly inside. The next question is how do you get that cell tower signal boosted to your devices? Like your hotspot or your cell phone and how does that whole system work?

You have the antenna on top, you have the weBoost system connected to the AC power, so then you have an inside antenna that’s plugged into the booster. I place it on my table where I do most of my work, and I’ll place my hotspots up in the window so it’s getting a signal outside and it’s close to this inside antenna.

The inside antenna is what ties it all together so that you can get a good cell signal to your devices. The closer it is to the antenna, the better.

Making sure that I use my weBoost and cell booster and these two hotspots – that’s how I stay connected most of the time.

Free 4 Day Mini Course BudgetingConnecting to Free WiFi & Internet on the Road

Most of the time I use my hotspots in the current set-up I explained, but there are times when it might be necessary to seek out WiFi.

My goto places are typically places like a Starbucks or a place that offers free WiFi.

The only time I’ve had issues is when I go to other countries like Canada and Mexico where my cell plan will cap me at a half a gig of data a day. So I will make more use out of the Starbucks, or believe it or not, Home Depot has excellent WiFi if you sit out in their parking lot next to the contractor section. I’m sure that sounds weird, but I’ve done all over New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, Canada.

That’s an option too if you are traveling and for some reason, you don’t have a hotspot, or you can’t get a good cell signal. Go to a Starbucks, or Home Depot, a Lowe’s, or Walmart. I’ve had sporadic luck with Walmart and better luck with Home Depot for free WiFi.

Keeping Devices & Gear Charged in Camper Van

The other thing about being a digital nomad is making sure that you have enough power to charge everything.

I tend to use a lot of power because I have a lot of things to charge like a computer, a camera – well several cameras – an iPhone, and my two hot spots. Those hotspots need to stay charged up so that I can always stay connected.

My weBoost needs to be plugged in so that it can get a signal as well and that draws energy using AC power so the inverter must be on. I do have my solar panels which charge the batteries, and most of the time this is sufficient for my needs.

All of the devices also use AC power, which means I need to have my inverter on to get power to the USB port and the plugs.

Hymer Aktiv Inverter

I have to turn on my inverter, and I have to make sure my lithium batteries are on, and then I will be able to have power to everything.

Lithum Batteries Hymer Aktiv

I’m pulling so much energy from my batteries, so I want to make sure that I’m getting enough solar power so that:

  • I am charged up by using my solar panels which means that my batteries have to be on to convert the solar energy to store into my batteries, or…..
  • I’m driving throughout the day to charge the batteries, or …..
  • I can turn on my under hood generator, which is part of the Hymer Aktiv van system and charge my batteries.

And that allows all of the batteries to charge in the van.

It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it and you understand the charging and solar power system. You get to know your van or RV and figure out how much power you’re pulling in from the sun and how much energy you’re pulling out of your batteries on an everyday basis. As a digital nomad, that is something that I have to pay attention to daily.

Aerial Van Drone Footage

I’m very conscientious of how much power I’m using just to turn the lights on or how much power I’m using when I’m cooking. I want to make sure that I’m entirely powered up throughout the day and just managing how much energy I’m using and consuming.

One of the things you might think about too is getting that Verizon hotspot that’s prepaid and that is not throttled and completely unlimited. Go ahead and watch that video so you can see how you can get that hotspot, make sure that you’re always connected, no throttle and unlimited.

That’s a big deal in this digital nomad community as well.

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

weBoost Antenna – Rust proof antenna to use on the earth magnet mount

weBoost Antenna magnet mount – Used for antenna mount above

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Verizon Jetpack Unlimited Data Review NO THROTTLE Hotspot

Verizon Jetpack Unlimited Data Review NO THROTTLE Hotspot

Verizon Unlimited Data Plan Review and hOw to set upHave you heard of the new Verizon Jetpack unlimited data plan that has no throttle, and you want to know if it’s legit? Then make sure you read this post all the way to the end or watch my video for my review of the new Verizon no throttle prepaid plan and how you can quickly get it set up.

What’s Different About This Plan?

Alright, so you’ve heard of this new Verizon Jetpack prepaid plan, and let’s be honest, us digital nomads have been waiting a very long time for a plan like this.

It’s something that we all talk about, and something that’s been a much-needed thing for us as we travel around the world or travel in our RVs. So, here’s the good news.

I think it’s legit, but let’s check it out and find out.

I’m going to give you all the details on this new Verizon prepaid Jetpack plan, I’m going to show you my speed test and my review, and I’m going to show you how to set this up easily.

Trust me; it was a little bit of a headache for me.

I had to talk to four different Verizon agents to get this set up, and some of them didn’t even know that the plan existed.

Some of the agents want you to set up a new account, and some say you can put it on your existing account if you already have a Verizon account. Some of their information was true, and some of it was not exactly accurate; however, I finally got it all squared away.

So I’m going to show you what I learned through the process so that you can easily set it up online or go in and talk to an agent and get this set up for yourself.

Verizon Prepaid Jetpack Plan

Good news! This new plan is also truly unlimited.

Now, where this differs in comparison to the old plans, like the one that I have on my Verizon plan which is throttled – this one is not throttled – in other words, there’s no cap on it which is good. That’s a huge plus for all of us digital nomads.

Verizon and AT&T Hotspots

The other thing is that it is $65 per month if you auto prepay for it. It’s advertised on the website at $70, but there’s a $5 discount if you prepay.

This plan is for Jetpack, so if you already have one of those hotspot devices than you can still use it – kind of – so keep reading where I tell you how to set it up.

Here’s the clincher, and you probably knew there would be one.

It is network-managed.

I talked to the representative to find out exactly what that means. The Verizon representative told me about network management, and there are essentially three tiers of priority in network management.

Verizon Plan ReviewEmergency vehicles like police and ambulances or firefighters will get the first priority.

They are in the top tier.

The second tier are people who are post-paid, which means you have a standard account and you don’t prepay for it. A post-paid account, which is like the current plan that I’m on where I pay for my cell phone and hotspot each month with an invoice. Note this hotspot is throttled at 15 GBs.

The third priority is prepaid, which is what this prepaid plan is at Verizon. Prepaid is at the bottom of the barrel. I don’t know why they do that; it doesn’t make sense to me that they would differentiate tiers between people who pay by invoice versus prepaid.

We’re all paying money into it, but that’s how they network-manage.

So, of course, when the representative told me this, I was a little bit concerned because I certainly don’t want to be bottom of the barrel, and there are a lot of people out there who have the regular post-paid accounts.

Being at the bottom of the tier as a prepaid customer, I was concerned that the network management was going to be too much and it was going to be as if I was throttled like on my existing plan. I went ahead and decided to get the prepaid account and go ahead and test it out so that I can find out if it’s going to be better than my original account.

Then, I can make some decisions on the original hotspot that I have on my account already, which is still under contract.

Is It Really a No Throttle Data Plan?

So, the big question here is, does this plan work, and is it indeed a no throttle plan as they say? The short, general answer is – yes.

It has been working really, really well for me, except for one specific situation in the desert – which is a bit weird. So far in the two weeks that I’ve had the new Verizon plan, it’s worked well.

I will say, I was very skeptical in the beginning about it.  Which is why I wanted to test it and really put it through its paces by taking it to rural areas, to urban areas, and testing it at different times of the day. This way I could see what kind of speeds I was getting and when I would see that slow down due to the network management.

The first thing I did to be able to test the Verizon Jetpack plan is I suspended my current, existing hotspot account, which is attached to my cell phone plan. I suspended it temporarily for two months so that I could test out the new prepaid Verizon plan and also still use my current Jetpack since I didn’t want to buy new equipment.

My cell phone plan is still working on my original account where my original hotspot line, on the same account, is suspended.

I had to set up a brand new account for the prepaid plan, and I got a new SIM card.

I could’ve just left the old, original hotspot as-is and still paid for that account and get a new Jetpack and a new SIM card. However; I wanted to use this existing Jetpack so that I didn’t have to buy new equipment, especially in case I didn’t like the plan, and it didn’t work for me. So, we suspended the old account, opened a brand new account, got a new SIM card, and I was able to use that new SIM card in the old Jetpack because the old SIM card is not deactivated, but just suspended. The old Jetpack was able to recognize the new SIM card even though this is still under contract which can only happen if you suspend the other account.

That’s how we worked it out to use the existing Jetpack.

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Speed Test of the Verizon Prepaid Unlimited NO THROTTLE Plan

When I purchased the new prepaid plan, I was in Dana Point, California, and I was there for about a week with the new prepaid plan working, and I had phenomenal results. I was surprised by how good the results were considering I’m in this city with a lot of people, and it’s Southern California in the Los Angeles area, which is a vast urban area.

I was again, very skeptical of this new plan and whether it would really work because of the network management, but it did work!

I was able to upload a YouTube video on it within 30 minutes, something that might have taken me an hour to an hour and a half using my AT&T hotspot. The AT&T cell signal wasn’t getting good service there at that point in time. Verizon was a stronger carrier in that area, so it was great to see that it was able to upload a video, no problem whatsoever, in a very populated, urban area.

Fast forward another week, and I went to the desert and decided to test it out in that area. This particular area that I was in has great service for AT&T and Verizon, and I decided to go ahead and do some speed tests in the evening and in the morning to see what that was like.

So, the first test I did is the Verizon AM speed test. This test underperformed especially compared to what the speeds were when I was in Dana Point, California, although I did not get an actual speed test on the record like I am here.

Verizon Morning Speed Test

AT&T speed test in the morning did very well and again, this may or may not be because of the cell tower strength here. It may just be that AT&T has a better signal in this rural area that I’m in versus Verizon. So it can’t be considered conclusive that Verizon is network managing and not a great plan yet. I still have more testing to do.

AT&T Morning Speed Test

The evening speed test produced similar results as the morning. Even though both carriers are working very well in this rural area, Verizon underperformed, which was pretty surprising considering how well it worked in an urban area. There are not very many people out here where I’m at in the desert, so I’m not sure why that is, but it was just an interesting thing to note, and we’ll continue testing it.

Verizon Evening Speed Test

AT&T Evening Speed Test

 

How to Set-up the Verizon Prepaid Jetpack Plan

Whether you have an existing account or your not a Verizon customer at all, you’ll want to set up a brand new account. Prepaid accounts need to have their own account, separate from an existing Verizon account that you may have already.

Setting Up a New Account for New Verizon Customer

If you are a new customer to Verizon, this is going to be pretty easy. You just go to their website, and you sign up for an account.

Make sure click on this link to go directly to the prepaid plans area, scroll down to find the Jetpack and tablet plans, and you’ll see the unlimited plan for $65.

Set-up Account Verizon Prepaid Jetpack

Then you’ll need to pick out your actual Jetpack. Click ‘next steps,’ ‘new customer,’ and then you’ll see different plans, but the one you want to select is the unlimited data for $70, although it is $65 for auto prepay.

Setting Up a New Account for Existing Verizon Customer

If you’re an existing Verizon customer AND you want to use your existing Jetpack, this is where it can get a little bit tricky.

You can go through the same methodology with setting up a new account with one difference.

Using Your Existing Jetpack

If you’re like me and you already have a Jetpack, and you want to use an existing Jetpack, then you will need to deactivate the old SIM card.

The only way to deactivate the card is to either get rid of that original line on your existing cell plan or suspend the account like I did to make sure it’s what you want after testing it for a bit.

The Jetpack will only recognize one working SIM card according to Verizon if the other account is still under contract – which mine is under contract. You then have the option of paying off the contract and then deactivating that line if you think the new prepaid hotpot line is the one you’ll keep.

If you still want to use your existing Jetpack, then these are the steps that you need to go through to make sure that your old Jetpack works with your new SIM card.

Once you know the steps to get the account set up, then it shouldn’t be a problem for you whatsoever, even if you wanted to go into the store and get it all set up there. Just present to them exactly what I showed you on the website by going to the prepaid plans option, and then click on the one that says $70.

Remember, it’s really $65, but it’s a five dollar discount for auto prepaying.

Review of Verizon Prepaid No Throttle Plan – So Far

So far I really like what I see with the plan. I had that one exception in the rural area, but other than that, I was able to upload a video pretty quickly, so I’m pleased with those results.

It’s still a little too early to tell right now if I’m going to stay with this plan. I’ll be testing it for two months, so I will do a follow-up video/post review after that time to let you know my findings. I’ll show you speed tests again and the places that it worked well, and the places that it did not work well.

Then we can decide if it’s a plan that’s worth keeping, or should I go back to my original hotspot contract and just use that particular account for my backup to my AT&T account.

If you’re anything like me, I wanted to jump on this before anything changed with the plan so I could start testing it right away. The good news is, it’s a prepaid plan and no contract, so if you want to jump on this plan as well, then click this link to go directly to the prepaid section of the Verizon website and go ahead and get your account set up as well.

As I mentioned a moment ago, I also have an AT&T hotspot in conjunction with my Verizon hotspot. I use both of hotspots as backups depending on the area, but I’m going to put together another video and post soon that shows exactly how I stay connected on the road in my camper van and how I work remotely as a digital nomad.

I’m curious if you all have already been set up on this prepaid plan, and if so, leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on it, what your findings have been. Are you using it a rural area or a city area? So, make sure you leave me a comment below if you’ve already signed up for this plan.

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

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Hymer Aktiv Camper Van Review After 6 Months of Van Life

Hymer Aktiv Camper Van Review After 6 Months of Van Life

Hymer-Aktiv-van-life-reviewIf you are looking to move into a Hymer Aktiv van, or you’re looking to do a custom van build, read this post thoroughly and watch the video to find out the things that I like and I dislike after downsizing into my Hymer Aktiv van after owning a Class C RV.

And if you want more how-tos on full-time RVing or traveling around North America, then subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit that notification bell, so you’ll be notified every time I upload a video each Thursday.

Do You Still Like Your Hymer Aktiv Camper Van?

So when I first started out RVing, I lived in a Class C RV, it was a Winnebago Spirit. And then, after that first year, I downsized into a what I have now, which is the Hymer Aktiv Class B van.

So I’ve lived in my Hymer Aktiv Class B van now for about six months, and I feel like I’ve gotten to know it enough to figure out the things that I really love about it, and the things that I feel like could be improved upon and changed.

So I get this question a lot, it’s “Do you still like your Hymer Aktiv camper van?

Do you like the fact that you downsized from a Class C into a Class B?” A lot of times that comes with the question, “Why?” Or, “What do you still like about it?” Or, “What do you not like about it?” Or, “What would you change?”

So the broad answer to that question is yes, I love my van, and I have zero regrets about purchasing this particular Hymer Aktiv camper van, or downsizing into a Class B van from a Class C.

Pros of the Hymer Aktiv and What I Really Like About This Camper Van

So while the Class C probably felt a little bit homier because it had the couch and a full bathroom with a shower and a lot more storage, I didn’t mind downsizing into the Class B. It felt like a natural progression and I’ve really taken on the minimalist attitude of purging things I don’t need in order to travel more freely.

1. Freedom and Being Nimble

Downsizing into the Hymer Aktiv did give me that freedom to be able to travel wherever I want and get into regular parking spots – which was a huge plus for me. I don’t have to research every place I wanted to go to now and make sure that my RV actually fits into that particular spot.

I don’t know if you saw my Lost Coast travel video, but that particular quest drive that I did on the Lost Coast, you could not have done in a regular RV, a Class C or above, or anything above really about 23 feet. I’m at 20 feet, (technically 19 feet 7 inches) and that was even pushing it probably a little bit. It worked out just fine, but I wouldn’t have been able to do that in my Class C.

So as you can see, there are certain places that you can and can’t go if you’re in those larger rigs. You have to decide what is best for you in that particular situation. I’m excited to take Atti (my Hymer Aktiv and short for Attraversiamo) to the East coast this next year. The East coast is so much more compact and it was pretty difficult this last year to maneuver around in my 26 foot Class C RV.

2. Ventilation Through Roof Vent

One of the things I really love about this particular camper van is that it has a roof vent that provides a significant amount of ventilation.

It does have a nightshade that you can pull back as well as a bug screen so you can open the roof vent and keep pesky bugs away while still allowing air flow.  It has a hand crank to open up the roof vent all the way. It, however, doesn’t have an automatic rain sensor like the Fantastic Fans so you have to be careful if there will be inclement weather and remember to shut the vent.

Hymer Aktiv Roof Vent

It does provide quite a bit of circulation, especially when you open up some of the other windows and turn on the Fantastic Fan in the bathroom that sucks air through the RV. Another great feature of this roof vent is you can actually climb up on the seats and poke your head through the vent and take a look at your solar panels to see how dirty they are. Mine are very dirty right now being close to the coast.

3. VoltStart System Specific to Hymer Aktiv

Another thing that I really love is the VoltStart system. This actually allows you to turn on your AC when you need it and run it as long as you’d like – well if you have enough gas in the vehicle.

There’s a toggle button to the left of the steering wheel to engage the VoltStart system. I like to use the VoltStart system to turn the AC on if I need to make sure it’s cool in the RV, so that Lily stays nice and comfortable. The other feature is that VoltStart actually monitors your lithium batteries to make sure that they’re completely charged up in case something is drawing a lot of power for it, like the AC, or if you’re using your water heater or your furnace on electric. It monitors your battery charge remaining and if it the batteries need to be charged more, VoltStart will turn on your underhood generator in your vehicle to charge those batteries.

4. Large Kitchen Counters Compared to My Previous Winnebago

The other thing that I really love about this space is my kitchen counter tops. It’s all flat and flush.

The glass for the stove top and the glass for the sink is flush with the countertop. So it just seems to give you a lot more room when you’re trying to prep food, and is much bigger than my Class C RV. The only thing that I think I would want to change about it is the faucet placements. It’s kind of in the middle of the counter area and it would be nice if it was actually pushed back just a little, so that you didn’t have to knock up against it when you’re prepping food.

Hymer Aktiv Kitchen Counters

So other than that one thing, I really love my kitchen countertop space compared to my Class C. Just seems to have a lot more room.

5. Nightshades in Hymer Aktiv are Top Notch

So another item to add to my things that I really like is the fact that it has these great night shades. When you pull the shades down it’s pretty dark and you can’t see any light coming through those the screen at all.

So it does get nice and dark inside of the van when you have all of the nightshades closed. Coupled with the dark tint of the outside windows, you can see any light inside the van from the outside at night. It gets super dark in the Hymer with all the nightshades down so you can sleep at night.

Hymer Aktiv Night Shades

My Class C van did not have these types of nightshades and instead let a lot of light inside. If you were outside, you could see inside and see shadows in here.

6. More Ventilation with Pop-Out Windows

Another thing I love about this RV is the ventilation from the pop-out windows. You can open up the side window all the way by pushing it out and up. There’s an amazing breeze that you can get when it’s fully open, especially when you open the sliding door and have the Fantastic Fan on inside. It’s astounding how cool you can keep the Hymer Aktiv.

Hymer Aktiv Ventilation Windows

So this is what it looks like from the outside. You can see how popped out it is. I have some friends who have Class B Mercedes Sprinter vans, and they want these windows because theirs only pops out a little bit and doesn’t fully extend like the Hymer Aktiv windows. Hymer did a great job on these particular windows.

Now, the back windows, for the bedrooms, don’t pop out the same as the living room window. It pops out about 1/4 of the way, but you still get some incredible airflow, especially when you turn the Fantastic Fan on to provide more circulation of air.

7. Ease of Emptying the Cassette Toilet

Another huge plus of the Class B camper van, and in particular to the Hymer brand, because it’s so new to North America, is the cassette toilet. The cassette toilet is very easy to dump, and you can empty it in so many different places. It makes it more versatile than dumping than the Class C RV because you don’t have all of the hoses and everything that you have to store and connect.

Opening Cassette Toilet Door

And it’s just much simpler inside the Class B van, because you can literally just take the cassette to a lot of different places to dump, whether it be pit toilets, regular toilets, inside of rest stops, inside of your typical places like sewer dump stations or RV parks to dump your tanks.

Emptying Cassette Toilet

It just gives you a lot more options when you’re emptying your cassette toilet on the road.

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the cassette toilet, I did a video that was specific to just the cassette toilet and how to operate the whole thing, the things I liked and didn’t like about it, and going through the process of showing you how to dump it.

8. Hymer Aktiv Truma Combi System

Before owning my Hymer Aktiv van, I had never used a Truma Combi system, and I will tell you that I am in love with it. It has some great features to it that make it high on my list of things I love about the Hymer Aktiv.

One of the things that I really, really love about it is that it’s quiet.

So with my Class C RV that I had, when the furnace was on, you could hear it. It was loud.

With the Truma Combi, it’s not loud at all. You can hear it a little bit when it kicks on and just because it’s quiet doesn’t mean that it’s inefficient. It’s very efficient. It gets nice and toasty in here, especially in the bathroom.

So here are the controls for the Truma Combi system.

Hymer Aktiv Truma Combi

So to turn on the furnace, we click the button when it’s toggled to the picture of the RV. You have the option of using propane or electric or a mix. I generally use propane to conserve battery power throughout the date. You can turn the temperature gauge to whatever your desired temperature is and then let it go. It’s very quiet when on the low speed. I never need to increase the speed of hot air as it warms up the Hymer Aktiv very quickly.

Now let’s turn on the water heater. You also have the option of using propane, electric, or a mix.

The water heater temperature setting gives you an option of Eco, which is slower to heat and gets up to 100 degrees and Hot, which increases the water temperature to 140, or Boost which heats up the fastest to 140 degrees.

I discovered just this morning that you can not operate both the furnace and the water heater on propane IF the water heater is on boost. It shut off the furnace when I selected boost mode. So I instead turned the water heater to electric, on the boost mode, and left the furnace on propane. That worked.

It’s nice to have the electric option which I didn’t have on the Winnebago!

9. Front Swivel Captain’s Chairs

So the next thing that I really, really love about this space is the two swivel chairs in the front. Now, it may seem weird that I love these two chairs, because when it’s facing forward, but watch what happens when you turn it around.

Hymer Aktiv Swivel Chairs

Hymer Aktiv Swivel Chairs 2

It opens up the living space now. You have two more chairs for guests, and to be honest, I sit in the driver seat a lot when I’m working. You might also be wondering how comfortable these seats are. Well, it’s quite comfortable. I’ve never had any issues with it being uncomfortable, and I’ve driven for long periods of time, I’ve sat in it for long periods of time working, and haven’t had any problems whatsoever, or any aches and pains.

Even the bench seats have been nice and comfortable. It’s very cushiony an even though it sits straight up like that, I love it.

10. Ease of Urban Camping

So one of the other things that I love about Hymer Aktiv is that, as I was saying earlier, it’s very nimble, and it also allows you to stay in urban areas a lot more easily. So I’ve been in Southern California, in an urban area, for probably about a month now, and have no problems getting around.

Stealth camp if you want, or street park if it’s allowed. I do make sure that anytime I am parking or stealth camping, that it is legal. Some people look at stealth camping as parking in places where it’s illegal to park and trying to get away with it. Maybe that’s the technical definition; I don’t know. Stealth camping, to me, is parking in particular areas where you just don’t want people to see that you’re inside.

So again, I make sure that it’s completely legal.

11. Bringing the Outdoors Inside with the Backdoors

The other thing that I love about this is this view, opening up the backdoors to the bedroom area. It’s pretty incredible. You can’t do this in a Class C like my previous RV.

Hymer Aktiv View from back doors

Hymer Aktiv View from back doors 2

The doors open up pretty wide.

Hymer Aktiv Back Doors Open 3

Hymer Aktiv Back Doors

You can lay in bed, watch the sunset or sunrise. Read. Work. It’s just a pretty incredible feature to have especially when you’re in a gorgeous area to boondock.

Cons or “Needs Improvement” of the Hymer Aktiv Camper Van

So now let’s talk about the things that I don’t really like about the Hymer Aktiv, or that I would like to see some improvement upon, whether that mean that I do the improvement myself, or whether Hymer will do an improvement in the future on the Hymer Aktiv vans.

1. Refrigerator is Difficult to Get Into

One of the things I don’t like about this Hymer Aktiv van is the refrigerator. It’s relatively small, which I knew, but what makes it difficult is this is a galley kitchen, and it’s a little bit difficult to get in and out of here. The door opens up to the right requiring you to bend down low to the ground to find your food. It’s difficult to see anything on the bottom shelf and in the back.

Hymer Aktiv Fridge

It would have been better to install a refrigerator with sliding drawer like the marine grade Isotherms. My workaround for this was to purchase clear organizers that I can slide in and out of the fridge. It made a huge difference and is much more manageable now.

2. Shower Faucet Poorly Designed for the Bathroom

All right, so now we are in the bathroom, and one of the things that I do not use is the shower feature. The faucet/shower nozzle does not have an on/off switch to keep it on or to keep it off to do a military shower.

It also gets everything very wet in here, so even though it has this curtain that you can move over to protect the back wall it gets everything else wet. The other thing is that it has this little hole in the shower curtain so that you can put the nozzle through it.

Hymer Aktiv Shower

So in order to conserve water, which you have to do when boondocking so you don’t run out of water, you have to stick your hand through the shower curtain hole to turn the faucet on and off, and then slide your hand out, pick up the shower head, rinse yourself off, put it back down, slide your hand back into the hole in the curtain, and shut off the water.

There needs to be a shut off valve on the head of the faucet/shower head.

So it’s just a really poorly thought out design, especially for people who are full-time RVing and would love to use this as a shower. It also would have been better to have a shower head attachment on the ceiling so you could use the same faucet/shower head to latch to latch at the top or down below.

This is probably something I could do on my own and fix it, but I don’t even take showers in here anymore, just because it’s been such a pain.

Instead, I bought a gym membership, and I go to the gym, work out, and take a shower or I utilize state parks, recreation centers, or any place that has public showers – even truck stops.

You’d be surprised, that truck stops have some nice showers. Some of them are like spas when you go in there. I even took a picture one time to show everybody what it looks like, the caption was, “Is this a spa, or is this a truck stop?” Guess which one they picked? They thought it was a spa.

3. Hymer Aktiv Ground Clearance – Underhood Generator

All right, so let’s talk about ground clearance now. When I bought the Hymer Aktiv van, I knew that it was a bit lower than the Mercedes Sprinter van, which is another popular van when you’re looking at Class Bs to do customizations. So I was okay with that. I knew that it was a little bit lower, but I didn’t think it was going to be too much of a problem.

However, there’s a couple of things that I don’t like since I’ve purchased it.

One of the items is the underhood generator.

Here is the underhood generator with the black covering over it and close to the front bumper.

Hymer Aktiv Underhood Generator

It’s so close to the bumper that when you pull forward into a parking space, you can hit curbs with it because it’s so low – and yes, I have done that! Unfortunately, nobody at the service department clued me into this when they were doing the walkthrough with me. I only discovered it through other Hymer Aktiv owners.

That is a major disaster waiting to happen. You can bust your underhood generator very easily with the placement in the front like this, even with that cover on it.

You would think that Hymer would put it in a place where it wouldn’t obstruct your ability to park and damage the underhood generator.

4. Hymer Aktiv Ground Clearance – Propane Tank

So the other item is the propane tank that is low to the ground. The propane tank lives under the right side of the Hymer Aktiv just behind the sliding step and under the black plastic skirting.

Hymer Aktiv Propane Tank

You can see how low it is to the ground, and the unfortunate part is that the valve with the yellow cover is where you fill up the propane tank. That valve — I don’t know if you can tell — is pointing at an angle towards the ground instead of straight out.

So what happens is, when they try to fill the propane tank, their hose attachment is hitting the ground. It’s very difficult to fit the propane hose onto the intake valve.

The propane tank issue probably perplexes me the most – well, it may be the underhood generator too. I don’t know why Hymer put that valve stem where it’s at an angle, because it is tough to get the propane fill nozzle onto it.

I’ve looked at different ways of trying to fix it, so far I haven’t figured out a way to do that. But the only manual way to do it, is to one, hope that when you go to fill up, that the concrete is a little bit on a curve or a slant. The other way to do it is to get some small blocks to roll your wheels up onto so that you’re a little bit more elevated.

5. Sliding Screen Door – Love/Hate Relationship

So the next item is a pro and a con and it’s a little bit of a love/hate relationship.

It is the screen door. Everybody loves this screen door – including me – but it is tough to open and close. So much so that I don’t allow anybody to touch it. I’d rather do it myself because it’s so hard to open and close. You have to figure out the right way to do it, and I don’t want people to damage it accidentally.

It is nice, and it keeps the bugs out and keeps Lily inside.

Hymer Aktiv Screen Door

You would think the natural, and easy place to open the door is at about waist level, but it’s not. You have to slide your hand down towards the ground and push or pull it at the bottom where the plastic glide for the sliding door track is located. Then it opens very easily at that point.

This track, for whatever reason, is just challenging. I don’t know why it’s just so tricky, but it is, and it’s not like you can put lubricant or anything on there to make it easier it’s just the way that it’s made. So yes, it’s a love/hate relationship.

6. Bathroom Sink Placement

So the other item that I could do without is this bathroom sink. You would think it would be alright; it folds up against the wall, it’s nice and tidy, organized, right? But every time you want to use it, you have to hit a little lever, and it pops down, and you have a sink.

It’s great, except that it’s very, very difficult to clean. There’s this little trough, if you will, down at the bottom of the sink, and to clean it, you have to remove the whole folding down sink to gain access to the trough.

So I don’t use it. I instead opt for the kitchen sink where I brush my teeth and wash my hair and face. If I were to customize this van more, I would not have the shower nor the sink, just a toilet. I most likely would also take down the walls to open up the space some more.

7. USB Plugs Use AC Power Instead of DC Power

Okay, so the next item that I wish were different is the USB plugs. Don’t get me wrong; I love having USB plugs. However, you have to turn the inverter on to use it since Hymer connected the USB plugs to AC power rather than DC.

That seems a little weird to me, and maybe it’s because in my Class C RV, I had USB plugs on DC power, so I didn’t have to turn on the inverter to get power to the USB plugs.

Hymer Aktiv USB AC Outlet

There is a USB right over the dinette table, one under the kitchen counter area, and another USB over the corner by the bed, but it’s hidden by part of the mattress. Another thing, they should have done is moved that plug up higher, so that it’s higher than the bed frame and the mattress.

8. Awkward Kitchen Table Fold Out

So another thing that I would like to see improvement on is the kitchen table. Now, I like this kitchen table. It was one of the selling features because it can either be a half table or extend to a full table by folding it out.

It’s great for when you have guests or using it has a desk and workspace.

Hymer Aktiv Dinette table

The problem is that to extend the table from the folding position; you have to raise the folded part upwards which means that anything you have on the table will fall off unless you move it. I always have my table filled with my hotspot, my weBoost antenna, pens, computer, books, phone, and chargers, so it’s a pain to extend it.

Once extended it’s nice and large, and I love that about it the table. I wish it actually would extend out from either underneath, or it’d be nice if it slid out and then pushed up so that it’s flush with the other side of the table, and then locks in place.

That’s really just a minor annoyance with the table, but I use it a lot, and so it’s just a small thing that I wish would be different, and something that I might also customize later on.

9. Spare Tire Placement

The last thing that I believe needs improvement is the spare tire placement. If you’ve been watching my videos, you know that I took my spare tire off and many people gave me condemned for it.  It was a personal preference.

I couldn’t get into my back door very easily, which I get into them all the time, so I decided to remove it. I don’t even carry one at all.

Now, when I had my Class C RV, it didn’t even have a spare tire either, and manufacturers are making RVs, a lot of times, without these spare tires. I do have roadside assistance, so if I ever have an issue, I’ll call them, or ask for help if I don’t have cell signal somewhere and get somebody out there to help me.

So the whole reason why I took the spare tire off, is because the spare tire was sitting in front of the back, left door and mounted to a secondary hitch. To access the left back door, you had to put the spare into its down position. Well, that thing weighs about 70 pounds and is very heavy and awkward to use.

What would have been nice, is if it had a swing-away hitch so that it could swing-away from the door, and you didn’t have to put it in a down position. Now, I have seen some hitches that will attach somehow to these door brackets and bumpers; however, I don’t think the bumper on the Hymer Aktiv could accommodate a swing-away hitch.

It would be nice if I could find a hitch mounted swing-away arm for a spare tire.

So you see it’s not that I didn’t want a spare, it’s just that it wasn’t very manageable for me. So if I could get that swing-away arm and be able to attach a spare tire again, I would really, really love that. So we’ll see what happens with that, and I’ll let you know in the future if I do get that swing-away hitch and find one that works for that particular area.

So all of these things that I have shared with you about the things that I really love about my Class B Hymer Aktiv, and the things that I would improve upon, are things that I have discovered in my first six months of owning this Hymer Aktiv van, and downsizing from that Class C to the Class B.

I’ll probably do another followup in a year, to show you some of the changes and modifications that I’ve made, and hopefully, have attached another spare tire.

So now that you know the things that I love and want to improve upon in my van, if you’re looking to full-time RV and want to learn some more information about how full-time RV, then we’re having an event called the Full-Time Freedom Week, where I’m actually going to teach on solo RVing.

Full-time Freedom Week

I get a lot of questions about solo travel and all of the different concerns that people have about solo RVing. I’ll be guest speaking on solo travel along with 30 other RVers who are experts in their field. They’ll be talking about all the things that you need to know, from what gear to use, maybe what RV you need to get, helping you discover that, and working full-time on the road, how to remote work, all kinds of topics.

FTFW Speaker ExcerptSo if that’s something that you’re interested in, get signed up and watch all of those videos at any point in time that you want throughout the year. The Full-Time Freedom Week event is also web-based so that you can watch it from the comfort of your home. But again, you can watch those videos at any point in time after you get signed up and registered for the all-access pass.

So if you liked this post and video, please let me know by sharing it with your family and friends, and commenting below, “I like that van” if you’re thinking about buying a van and joining the van life community.

 

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

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California Coast Road Trip / Pacific Coast Highway / Fort Bragg to San Francisco

California Coast Road Trip / Pacific Coast Highway / Fort Bragg to San Francisco

California Coast Road TripWhat a fantastic adventure on the Pacific Coast Highway on this California Coast road trip in my Hymer Aktiv van! I’ve spent almost the entire Summer season and now well into Fall on the West Coast and along the Pacific Coast Highway overlooking the ocean.

I’ve loved every minute of it and I’ll be sad when I start to turn inland and away from the ocean and her coastal beauty.

Being near the water and her dynamic energy is soothing and energizing at the same time. I enjoy how I feel around her and the colors she displays from one boondocking spot to the next.

After finishing up that crazy drive through California’s Lost Coast – I found this incredible boondocking spot just off of Highway 1 on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Boondocking for Several Weeks North of Fort Bragg, California

I lucked out on this spot. It was the only overlook that had a cell signal strong enough for me to work (only if I was using the weBoost cell booster) and even upload videos. It was a large overlook and not close to the highway, so I didn’t feel each vehicle pass me by.

The sunsets were incredible every night.

Westport Sunset

Westport Sunset 3

Westport Sunset 2

I was relaxed and enjoying the beauty of my surroundings and the night sky lit up with bright stars.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself knowing that this is my life – a life that I’ve actively created and one where I’ve fulfilled my biggest dreams! I guess I need to get some more dreams and goals too.

Happy Place

Just down the highway is public restrooms by the beach, so I utilized that to dump my cassette toilet a couple of times. There was also trash bins that I made use of as well. Those are the two main concerns when boondocking in my van. My fresh water tank and grey water tank are large enough that I only need to fill and dump every three weeks roughly.

I know how to conserve very well though and am careful with my water consumption.

After a couple of weeks of enjoying this beautiful area, I left to meet up with Maury from Traveling Solo and caravan down the Pacific Coast Highway with him for several days. He also owns a Hymer Akitv van that happens also to be white like mine.

Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California

Once I got into Fort Bragg; about 30 minutes from my boondocking spot, it was time for errands.

I dumped the tanks.

Filled up with fresh water.

Gave Atti (my Hymer and short for “attraversiamo”) a much-needed bath as I could barely see out of the side windows. I may or may not have almost taken the skin off my hand while washing the van. There was a spot on the van that wouldn’t come clean, and I went to rub it with my fingers at the same time I was spraying water on it. I thought I had messed up my hand. It hurt pretty bad!

Note to self, keep hands and limbs away from high-pressure water unless I’d like to give myself a “peel” for free – or the cost of a car wash!

…and I stocked up on some groceries.

Food Haul

Then headed to the local recreation center for a much-desired shower. Standing under hot water is something I miss that I don’t get in the van. Oh well. It’s a small price to pay for having everything else be amazing.

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

Maury and I met over at Glass Beach to see if we could find some of these bright, water tumbled glass that’s supposed to be all over the beach.

Glass Beach Maury and Amber

Glass Beach came to be from it being a former dumping ground. The glass would break from being thrown about by water against the rocks and over time turned into these glass pebbles that were smooth and looked like little gemstone rocks.

Glass Beach Amber

Glass Beach

Glass Beach Amber 3

After scouring around the beaches and traversing over rocks, we, unfortunately, didn’t seem to find much of this glass on the beach after all. We saw a few little pieces every once and a while, but it didn’t look like the pictures we’ve seen online.

To make matters worse, I somehow lost my Joby Gorillapod when I had my camera slung over my shoulder. I tried to go back and find it, but it was gone.

Mendocino State Park

Continuing down the Pacific Coast Highway, we headed over to Mendocino State Park. What a beautiful sight with the jagged edge rock formations and the water was this blue and green color, almost like what I’ve seen in the Bahamas.

Mendocino State Park2

Mendocino State Park

We watched the waves crash against the rocks, and the ocean water follow the path as far as she could go in between rocks, over rocks, until she came crashing into the cliffs.

California condors were flying overhead, and I’m pretty sure one had his sights on Lily. He was flying in fast and low. I was shocked at how low he was. We were walking back to the vans when it happened so I scooped her up, even though she was on a leash, in case that bird thought he could get close enough, even with us there, to attack her.

We didn’t stay in Mendocino too long. We had a pretty long travel day and kept pushing forward. It was starting to get a little chilly up north, especially at nights and the fog was starting to stay around a little longer, so time to head even further south. We also needed to make sure we found a place to overnight before dark.

The goal with trying to find overnight spots is for it to be off of the ocean somewhere. It’s pretty easy to do, for the most part, around the Pacific Coast Highway until you get closer to larger cities.

Point Arena Lighthouse and Overnight Camping

After driving the California Coast and stopping at local beaches and overlooks, we settled on Point Arena Lighthouse as our overnight spot. There’s a winding road that takes you from Highway One to the lighthouse with several parking areas overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

We immediately found a great spot and made sure the lighthouse was closed before we claimed a gravel parking area for our overnight camping spot.

Again, I feel so fortunate to be in this area and have these lands available to us to gaze in wonder and allow us to camp overnight.

Point Arena was especially interesting for its unique strata, sandstone rock formations, some of which tilt slightly in towards the coast with this almost symmetrical pattern.

Point Arena Strata Rocks 2

Point Arena Strata Rocks

Point Arena Strata Rocks 3

I made some split pea soup for dinner and watched the sun go down and create this picturesque glow off of the ocean. I seem never to get tired of a sunset or how it shapes itself onto the water. It’s different every night yet comfortable in the way you know you can count on it to amaze you with its wonder.

Point Arena Lighthouse Sunset

Point Arena Lighthouse Sunset 2

We only stayed here one night so we could keep traveling south. The goal was to make it to San Francisco today and do some sightseeing there. It’s been a while since I’d been in the city, so I was looking forward to exploring.

Gualala Regional State Park

We came across this interesting regional park in Sonoma County where there were large wooden carvings dedicated to Siberian ancestors during the Summer Solistace of 2014.

Gualala Regional State Park 3

The logs were brought onsite and then carved there into ceremonial hitching posts in this sacred site by Master Carvers from Yakutsk, the capital city of the Sakha Republic in Siberia.

Gualala Regional State Park

These posts are called Sergeh’s and are typically placed near homes as a way to ward off the harsh winters in Siberia.

Gualala Regional State Park 2

What a treat to witness the beauty of these Master Carvers and skills and the intricacies of the Sergeh posts.

Winding Roads & Extreme Marine Layer

Pushing on we kept heading south down Highway 1 where we encountered everything from winding roads, beautiful forested areas inland, coastline roads, and lots of marine layers.

Signs suggest that no vehicles over 40 feet should be traveling along this coastline and suggest that all vehicles be under 35 feet. I couldn’t imagine doing anything much bigger than my 20-foot van. We even saw deep scratches in the roads on some of the switchbacks turns where RVs or trucks trying to take the turn bottomed out. I imagine the hitch was what was hitting – I hope.

The fog and marine layer at the top of some of the Pacific Coast Highway peaks were just breathtaking. It was like this blanket of clouds, and we were actually above it in some areas. I could see the clouds float by quickly just over my head where I could reach out and touch it.

Pacific Coast Highway marine layer

Marine Layer on Pacific Coast Highway

We attempted to see Goat Rock State Park, but there was so much fog we could barely even see down to the ocean. So onward we went further south through Bodega Bay and other small little towns off of Tomales Bay.

San Francisco, California Overnight Dry Camping

It wasn’t long before we headed back inland and on into San Francisco where we stopped for the night to rest. We found a visitor center on the southwest side of the Golden Gate Bridge to overnight. Unfortunately, you couldn’t access it until you traveled over the bridge, so we had to turn around and go back over and then head into the visitor center. It’s $8 one way so in all we paid $16 since we had to travel back over it the next morning to continue south.

It was worth the $16 considering we didn’t have many overnight options for parking unless we tried to find some stealth parking. By that time though my arms and shoulders weren’t feeling so great from navigating around all the winding roads.

The visitor center was quite the experience. It was full when we arrived during daylight with a lot of cars and people visiting the Golden Gate Bridge.

What a hot mess!

It did quiet down, around midnight, and the parking lot cleared, except for maybe 5 or 6 other campervans. I didn’t see anything bigger than a campervan, and it would have been hard to park in that area.

It was free, so it worked out well.

What has your experience been traveling along the Pacific Coast Highway? Have you tried boondocking in any of the overlooks?

Road Trip Report & Map

Westport to San Francisco map

Take a look at all of the places I’ve been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 200

Average Miles per Gallon: 14.4

Road Conditions: Roads were clear, but really windy, with switchbacks, and narrow areas.

Weather Conditions: Chilly at night, sunny during the day with some marine layer/fog.

Time of Year Visited: Mid October

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Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Overlook off of highway 101 Westport, California / $0
  • Boondocking at Point Arena Lighthouse, Point Arena, California / $0
  • Dry camping at San Francisco Visitor Center / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Glass Beach – Fort Bragg, California / $0
  • Mendocino State Park – Mendocino, California / $0
  • Local Beaches / $0
  • Gualala Regional State Park / $0
  • Point Arena Lighthouse / $0
  • Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco, CA / $8 round trip

RV Accessibility:

  • Signs state no RVs over 40 feet and that recommended RV is 35 feet or less.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  Some areas were great and some had no cell signal. It was very spotty, but there were enough small towns in between that it wasn’t an issue. AT&T was stronger than Verizon and you’ll definitely need a cell booster, like the weBoost that I use, to get a better signal if you’ll be working or watching movies.

Park Pass:  N/A

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Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

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Lost Coast Trail California Road Trip & California PCH

Lost Coast Trail California Road Trip & California PCH

Lost Coast and California PCH BoondockingTraveling on the Lost Coast Trail in California was one of the most challenging roads I’ve ever driven since starting my RV journey – even more challenging than the Lake Tahoe Loop without guardrails in a 26 foot RV.

This trip all started in Crescent City, California just after you pass over the Oregon and California border on Highway 101.

If you’ve been following along on the journey since summer, I’ve been traveling down the entire Pacific Coast Highway from Washington to Oregon, and then now into California. For this summer season, I wanted to show the entire Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 101 and Highway 1, from north to south, with some quest trips in between.

It’s one of my favorite places to travel with a plethora of boondocking spots right near the ocean.

Crescent City, California

Crescent City wasn’t one of my favorite places to hang out, though the coastline is pretty with some beautiful scenery.

I just wasn’t thoroughly impressed with the city. Maybe it’s because I was expecting more from the first city you see when entering California.

Crescent City California 2

Crescent City California

It was pretty run down in the areas I saw and I didn’t see a place just in town to overnight, so I stayed at a free casino just north of Crescent City for a couple of days before making the trek south, but not before capturing some beautiful scenery around Point Saint George.

Trinidad and Eureka, California

I was hoping to find an overnight spot by the ocean before getting to Eureka, California, but no such luck.

I stopped in Trinidad at a place that was on one of my apps, but it was a bit sketchy and very tiny place with too many other people around, so I skipped it and kept going.

The view was pretty incredible though from Moonstone Bay which is popular for surfers.

Trinidad California

Lily and I stopped at Trees of Mystery to visit the massive statue of Paul Bunyon and Babe, so Lily could get her picture taken with all his furry friends.

Then off we went again where we landed in McKinleyville for three days to work before going to the Lost Coast. I figured I wouldn’t have a cell signal there in the Lost Coast and wasn’t sure how long I might be on the trail.

Sheriff Knocks on My Door

I ended up just on the outskirts of this neighborhood where I could park for free, and that’s where I stayed for three days.

I would walk around the coastal trails for exercise and then get back to work and keep repeating.

On the third day I was there, I was just waking up when there was a knock on my door.

It was the sheriff.

Apparently one of the neighbors had called to report a suspicious van in the neighborhood. I usually wouldn’t stay in neighborhoods that long but it was right on the cusp of the community and next to a parking area for people wanting to walk the coastal trail. So I figured it was ok.

Anyway, he was very friendly and chatted with me about what I was doing in the area and how long I intended to stay. He also told me that in that area it was okay to stay for ten days without moving and that in all of California, it’s not illegal to live in your vehicle.

I let him that I was actually leaving that morning and was just getting up, but he invited me to stay longer. I got a bit of a kick out of the whole thing because it was my first time somebody turning me into the cops and the cops were super chill about it.

Lost Coast Trail

The Lost Coast trail starts in Ferndale, California and travels along Mattole Road, winding, twisting, turning, through forest, pastures, along with the coastline, and back to Highway 101.

The two-lane road was one of the worst roads I’ve ever driven on with potholes and severe rough terrain.

Lost Coast gets its name from being the coastline in California that isn’t explored frequently from travelers due to its rough, rugged, and steep terrain where major roads have yet to conquer. It’s one of the reasons Highway 101 cuts inland and by-passes this area altogether.

I should have known how bad it was going to be just by the name, but I didn’t expect the 2-lane road to be so rough throughout.

Lost Coast Windy Road

What You’ll Find on the Lost Coast Trail

The Lost Coast is indeed a spectacular place despite the rough ride in and out. It’s an experience like no other and one you won’t forget for a long time.

Lost Coast Features:

  • Seriously steep inclines
  • Tight switchback turns
  • Roughest road with potholes everywhere
  • Roads weren’t graded for frequent traffic, so steep inclines and declines were common
  • Breathtaking views of the hillsides and ocean
  • Bridges
  • Cows – yes cows
  • So remote that I might have seen five people over 60 miles
  • Beachside views of the ocean and rocks
  • Redwoods at the end

Would I do this drive again?

No, not in my van or an RV.

If I had a Jeep, I would travel it again, and the experience might be much different. It took me over four hours to drive the 67 miles due to how bad the roads were, and the steep inclines and declines and extreme switchback turns.

Lost Coast Rough Roads

There’s no cell service out there and very few people you see on the road – so if you pop a tire be prepared to wait for help or change it yourself if you have a spare.

I, of course, was thinking of how I decided to get rid of my spare tire because it’s such a pain to open up the back doors with it on the hitch. Then so many people gave me a hard time doing that.

All I could think was, “Please don’t let this be the moment where I get a flat without being able to call for help!”

That would have been highly unfortunate.

Thankfully nothing like that happened, and I got through it, but the whole event rattled me a bit. Most of my nervousness was due to dodging potholes 95% of the time I was on the road, the steep declines where I was in second gear and still having to apply the brake the entire way down and not being able to let up because the aging road was twisting and turning all the way down. I just kept hoping that the brakes would burn up.

I also saw cows grazing along the hillside and we had this moment of me looking at him and him looking at me. I think we locked eyes and pretty sure he was wondering what I was doing there on this crazy ride.

Lost Coast Cows

At the very top of the peak, at about 1,250 feet in elevation, you could see the expanse of the hills, cliffs, and then the beautiful ocean. It was rather cold up there as well, especially with the wind.

Lost Coast at 1250 feet

Lost Coast Ocean Water

Once I arrived on the actual Lost Coast overlooking the ocean and the craggy rocks below, it was breathtaking and felt so amazing to sit and take in the beauty and nature around. The wind was pretty fierce that day and, if you saw my video, my hair was a hot mess!

Lost Coast Road Overlook

Lost Coast Beaches

Lost Coast Beach

Lost Coast Rocks

Lost Coast Sunset

There was even a bridge with wooden planks laid out to cross the bridge – which of course frightened me especially after my nerves were already shot from the crazy drive from before with the van rattling all over the place, dodging potholes and rough roads.

Lost Coast Bridges

Lost Coast Bridge

The Surprise at the End

After driving for four hours, I was rewarded at the end with this breathtaking drive through a redwoods forest where the trees loomed high over the street, and it suddenly seemed like it dusk at night in the forest.

I was so glad to see the Redwoods – not only for the gorgeous view, but I knew Highway 101 was near.

My GPS had stopped working because it couldn’t get a signal and the cell phone didn’t work either so a majority of the time I had no idea how much further I had before civilization again. It was like being in part of the country that was untouched, without mansions hovering along the coastline. There’s not shops, no restaurants, no grocery, or gas. It’s just you, the rough road, and nature.

I’m so glad I had the SumoSprings bumpstops installed prior to this drive. The SumoSprings helped to prevent the sway when tackling these tight turns and corners – I didn’t feel like I was tilting to one side during the turn anymore.

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Searching for a Boondocking Spot

After that long day of driving and my shoulders and back hurting from the constant active driving, I wanted nothing more to rest and stop driving. However, I had a difficult time finding a place to boondock in the area I was in so I decided to push forward another hour and 40 minutes, down Highway 101, turn west onto Highway 1, go through another Redwoods forest for 40 minutes, and then hit the coastline again.

So that’s what I did.

All I wanted was to see the sunset that night over the ocean, wake up the next morning to the ocean, and just relax. No driving for a couple of days at least.

Finally, just before sunset, I arrived on the Pacific Coast of Highway 1 and was met with a glorious sunset and almost immediately found a great boondocking spot with cell coverage.

Oh, what I sight to see!

I couldn’t believe when the ocean started to appear, and I was getting closer and closer. My heart was beating a little faster, and I was thrilled in anticipation of being able to rest next to the ocean for the night.

My happy place! It was a perfect end to a crazy day.

Have you traveled the Lost Coast Trail? What’s the worst road you’ve ever traveled and would never do again?

Road Trip Report & Map

Lost Coast Trail Map

Take a look at all of the places I’ve been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 67

Average Miles per Gallon: 14 mpg

Road Conditions: Roads aggressively rough, filled with potholes, bumps. I had to constantly go into the other lane to avoid.

Weather Conditions: A bit chilly at the highest elevation of 1,250 feet, but otherwise warm, but windy.

Time of Year Visited: Early October

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Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Lucky 7 Casino, Crescent City, California / $0
  • Stealth camping in McKinleyville, California / $0
  • Stealth camping in Motel 6 parking lot in Eureka, California / $0 (not something I would typically do, but there was a lack of, what I felt were safe areas on the streets)
  • Overlook by the ocean Westport, CA / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Coastal beaches and overlooks  / $0
  • Lost Coast Trail / $0
  • Trees of Mystery / $0

RV Accessibility:

  • Along Highway 101 any rig would be okay.
  • Lost Coast trail you should be 20 feet and under and preferably a passenger vehicle.
  • Highway 1 is very curvy, switchbacks, tight turns. I wouldn’t suggest anything bigger than 30 feet, but some have pulled trailers through, but it’s slow going and pretty tight.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  Cell signal was very sporadic throughout and I had no signal on the Lost Coast nor going through the Redwoods. Verizon was stronger than AT&T and you’ll definitely need a cell booster, like the weBoost that I use, to get a better signal if you’ll be working or watching movies.

Park Pass:  N/A

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Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

SumoSpring Bumpstops: Bumpstops for the rear of the Hymer to get that one-inch lift and to reduce sway.

SumoSprings Front Coils: Spring coils for the front springs to create a more stable ride.

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SumoSprings Installation Before & After on Hymer Aktiv Van

SumoSprings Installation Before & After on Hymer Aktiv Van

One of the things I noticed after purchasing the Hymer Aktiv van is the sway when you turn corners or when you go over bumps. I discovered SumoSprings bumpstops for the rear and spring coils for the front from other Hymer owners who had installed as well.

So I ordered the front SumoSprings coils and the rear SumoSprings bumpstops and found a place in Eugene, Oregon to install.

Why I Installed SumoSprings

I hadn’t owned the Hymer Akitv too long when I noticed that going around corners I would take them slower to feel like I’m not tipping a bit to one side. I’m sure this is the case with many vans and RVs; however, I thought it could be more comfortable.

Not having the SumoSpring bumpstops wasn’t horrible by any means, it’s that it could be better and have a better ride.

The SumoSprings bumpstops on the rear will provide a stiffer ride, so the van doesn’t sway to one side or the other when turning corners as much. It will also reduce the bounce when going over bumps.

SumoSprings bumps

The third advantage to the SumoSprings installation is that it gives you a one-inch lift in the rear. Considering how low to the ground the Hymer is – having that extra one-inch clearance is worth the installation.

Installing the front SumoSprings coils will provide a more rigid ride but also might give you about a 3/4 inch lift. Fingers crossed.

SumoSprings coils

SumoSprings Installation Before & After

I found a company, Oakmont Service Center, while I was in Eugene, Oregon that could install the SumoSprings bumpstops on the rear and also the front SumoSprings coil which also will help to provide a more rigid ride.

Jacob did a fantastic job of installing the SumoSprings. He first read through all the instructions thoroughly, did a couple of tests before permanently seating the coil and the bumptops.

Jacob at Oakmont Service Center

Oakmont Service Center

I couldn’t have been happier with the installation. Make sure you watch the video to see the install.

Before installing I measured both the rear and front from the ground to the bottom of the wheel well molding to see how much lift I received after installing.

I had heard differing stories on whether you could gain ground clearance on the front. Some people said they didn’t get any lift and others stated about 3/4 of an inch. I was hoping for something – anything- because the underhood generator is too close to the ground already and scrapes on the curb when pulling into parking spaces. Now I mostly backup into spaces so I don’t accidentally damage the underhood generator.

After installing the front coil springs, it didn’t provide any additional lift which is a huge bummer. However, the rear SumoSprings bumpstops provided an extra one-inch lift. Not only was it lifted one inch, but it also prevented that sway I was getting when turning corners.

SumoSprings Installation Before and After-2

I have to say it’s so much better now and I’m super happy with the SumoSprings.

I gave it a good workout while traveling down Highway 101 and 1 along the Pacific Coast Highway through California. I’m happy I had the SumoSprings installed before tackling that drive.

100% better!

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Long-Term Use of SumoSprings

The maintenance techs had a concern that the bumpstops were touching the suspension which apparently can make the bumpstops wear down and might need replacing over time. My understanding was that SumoSprings were produced to be tough enough to handle the friction and were made to touch the suspension.

I’ll provide an updated SumoSprings review after a year to see if there are any changes to the bumpstops.

Have you installed the SumoSprings bumpstops to your van or RV? What did you think about it long term?

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

SumoSpring Bumpstops: Bumpstops for the rear of the Hymer to get that one-inch lift and to reduce sway.

SumoSprings Front Coils: Spring coils for the front springs to create a more stable ride.

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September 2018 Income Report – How I Made $950 Traveling Full-Time

September 2018 Income Report – How I Made $950 Traveling Full-Time

Blogger Income ReportThe last several months I’ve had a steady increase in my passive income each month; however this month it has declined, but I knew it probably would. There’s a couple of reasons that factored into why both total income and passive income decreased, but I was aware active income would decline and was relatively certain passive income would fall.

Sometimes there are ebbs and flows of a business and it’s important to understand why and to plan accordingly.

My goal in revealing my income each month through income reports is to show you the progression and hopefully provide some inspiration or little nuggets of information that helps you in your journey.

In my post on How to Make Money Online Traveling in an RV and the video on YouTube, I announced a huge change that I made in my life.

After traveling for a year, full-time, I wanted more freedom, and I was working 60-80 hours a week. I was considerably stressed even though I love this company that I worked for – but the pace was starting to get to me, and I just felt like I needed a change. I was documenting my travels on the blog and YouTube and was able to tap into my creative side again – something I hadn’t used in a while – and it felt great and nourishing to my soul.

I took the BIG LEAP and quit so I can focus my attention on my endeavors in business – like building my online business and coaching/consulting practice. Even though I was working remotely this whole time – I still felt that I needed a change.

Now I’m even more location independent because I don’t always have to stress about making sure there is an Internet connection – even though I depend on it for my own business – at least for a couple of days. I can relax more and take in the landscape in places that are more remote and not feel like I need to rush through it to make sure I’m available for my job.

It’s exciting, thrilling, and a little nerve-wracking, but I feel thrilled with my decision and am pushing forward!

Why Am I Sharing My September 2018 Income Report?

Sharing what I earn each month and from what sources will not only allow me to document my income but also to see the growth or where I need to make adjustments. It’s motivating for me to see how far I can push myself each month to be creative and reach my goals.

I have a vision in my head of what I want to create, but that also means listening to you, the Story Chasing viewers, to get your feedback and understand more of what you desire in order fulfill your dream journey.

I want to be the example, the experiment, to you all so you can see that you can also accomplish your desires. Who knows how long it will take me to reach my overall goal of replacing my former income, but as long as I don’t quit, I don’t see how I can’t win at this little experiment.

Each month I’ll post in the income report:

  • Monthly earnings for the month
  • Percentage of increase/decrease month-over-month
  • Sources of income (when I’m able to be transparent)
  • Monthly and annual goals
  • Growth opportunities
  • Successes

I hope by posting my income report that it provides you with some inspiration as to what’s possible for you and your journey. My biggest hope is that I can share with you all a different lifestyle that’s not necessarily the “social norm,” but that is entirely enriching and makes me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt. This is why I named my blog and YouTube channel Story Chasing.

It makes me pretty happy to create new stories and moments in my life and fill my brain with these special memories of my travels and the people who I’ve met along the way.

September 2018 Income Report – Working Remotely While Traveling Full Time

July was my first month after quitting my job so the September 2018 income report will be my third income report since starting to work full-time in my own business while also traveling full-time.

I have the StoryChasing.com blog and also the YouTube channel – which by the way, if you like what you see on my YouTube channel, please hit that subscribe button and click on the notification bell so you’ll know when I upload a video each week.

My Goals and Business Insights for the September 2018 Income Report

After taking some rest time in July, the month after I quit my job, I got busy in August accomplishing more and understanding more of what I wanted to communicate through my channels while still traveling and editing videos. In September, it was more about organization and prepping for efficiencies and work ahead.

September 2018 Income Report Editorial Calendar Goal

I set a goal to fill in an editorial calendar through the end of the year and accomplished this goal. I took some time to determine what content I knew needed producing with quest videos, everyday travel videos, income report videos, and then in between would be how-to videos.

It makes the process easier of knowing what content I’ll be producing in the future so I can stay on track, make sure I get the shots that I need during filming and specific areas of my travels and prepare me for my next goal of learning batch process workflow.

Story Chasing Insider Crew Invitation

Batch Process Workflow Goal

I seriously needed to figure out a way to create more efficiencies with the process of editing videos, blog posts, SEO research, and all the steps in between to provide the finished product of a video and blog post. Doing one video/post at a time is not efficient and takes up a considerable amount of time each week.

In my endeavor to create more efficiencies, I started to look at how to batch process the workflow so I am spending less time with work and more time traveling and diving into the Story Chasing community.

It was an exciting process to determine the best course of action, but I think I’ve come up with a good game plan and feel that it’s already starting to help me.

YouTube Subscriber Goal

My goal for September was to continue working towards increasing to 5,000 subscribers on YouTube.

I’m slowly getting there. We gained 384 subscribers to the community for an ending total of 4,715 subscribers on YouTube.

It’s climbing steadily!

I’m so happy with that number. Again, I’m going to keep on pushing through, producing content that you all can connect with, I hope, and numbers will continue to grow.

Slowing Down Goal

I must have mastered the art of slowing down because I was just recently called “pokey” by a fellow nomad, uh um, Joe.

Well, I can’t help myself when I’m enjoying these lovely views of the Pacific ocean and incredible sunsets. So, Pokey it is!

It was tough slowing down after leaving the rat race – I guess because I’ve been doing it so long, but I’m finally taking better care of myself, enjoying the journey more, and I’m so much happier for it. I wouldn’t change a thing about my pokiness. lol

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If you’re new to my blog, here’s a little bit about me and what I do.

I’m Amber, and I started StoryChasing.com and my YouTube channel last year in the second quarter of 2017 after selling my home and everything I own to travel full-time in an RV. When I first started out traveling, I had no idea where I was going, and then I came across a book called National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways. What a great way to see the country and learn about the areas around, so I started a quest to accomplish all 300 highways and byways – with no end date by the way.

From the beginning, I documented my travels across the United States and Canada, through photos and video, so I could show that I’ve completed all 300 highways and byways. I’m the sole traveler, writer and videographer, marketer, editor, administrator, accountant, driver and whatever other hat is thrown my way in this adventure.

I travel with my fur baby, Lily, who is a 10 lb Whippet, Chi, Rat Terrier mix and a fantastic traveler with her car seat so she can see outside and be safe in her harness that clips into the seat.

Over the course of my travels, I get asked quite a bit if I’m fearful to travel solo. I even made a video about it and how I overcome fear. It’s been one of my more popular videos because I believe it addresses a fear that we all have – whether you’re a man or a woman – about being by yourself and living in this world without subjecting ourselves to the constant fear of others and media. I’ve discovered that the world out there is kinder and more beautiful than I anticipated and that I’m also much stronger than I ever imagined. I’ve conquered plenty of fears this year, but I believe those fears are just opportunities to overcome and the greatest success and reward are on the other side of that fear.

I have worked in some capacity in Accounting since I was 17 years old and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy and am a Certified Financial Crimes Investigator. Most of my career I was working in property management, construction, and real estate with the last company being a Private Equity Firm specializing in acquisitions and development of multi-family housing where I was the Director of Asset Management Accounting. Though I loved my job, the company, and the people I worked with, I knew it was time for a change and to see what I could do with my own company.

I’ve been blogging on and off for over eight years and have created many websites and blogs and learned quite a bit about making money online. I just needed to figure out what I wanted to do to make money online.

As my viewers started asking me questions, a natural business started to form where I could teach others the knowledge I have on various subjects. I’m so thrilled to be working in this capacity and to help others. I’ve been coaching women for several years as well, and it’s an immensely fulfilling joy to help these woman overcome experiences in their life.

I’m also business consulting for acquisitions/dispositions of real estate and multi-family housing.

Lastly, some of my income – that you’ll see below in the September 2018 income report – also comes from an e-book I wrote about five years ago that helps people overcome rosacea naturally. It’s not generating much income right now since I haven’t been focusing on marketing very much in the last couple of years. When I first wrote the book, it was generating about $200-$400 per month.

September 2018 Income Report

I’ve completed a breakdown by passive income and active income with totals for each. I knew my income would decrease this month with viewers vacations ending and kids back in school. September always seems to be one of those transition months for blogs, at least mine, where it slips a bit and then regains traction in the upcoming months.

Passive Income September 2018 Income Report

  Affiliate Income:

  Advertising:

  • Ad Revenue $185.83

  My Products:

Passive Income Total of $347.60

This is a decrease over August at 10.82%.

Active Income September 2018 Income Report

  • Consulting/Coaching – $600 which I knew would decrease since the bulk of the work related to contracting for my previous employer is coming to an end.

Total September 2018 Income Report $947.60

September 2018 Income Report

My bottom line goal is to increase my passive income, month-over-month by approximately 16.25% and I did not meet that goal with an 11% decrease.

All of the income above is before expenses and taxes and represents my gross revenues.

Top Goals for October 2018

I’ll also make sure to follow-up in the October income report with how I met my goals below:

  • Continue to reach viewers looking for an alternative lifestyle in minimalist living, traveling full-time, learning how to earn income on the road, and growing YouTube subscribers to 5,000+.
  • Begin the process of outlining a new product for sale to diversify my income.
  • Complete at least two extra videos to put in the queue for scheduling. I’m going to be busy in January and part of February with Xscapers convergences, meet-ups at RTR, and other meet-ups and need to have at least six videos ready to go. I don’t think I’ll be able to concentrate on editing and publishing during that time but will get quite a bit of footage.

Please leave me a comment below on how you liked this September 2018 income report. Was something missing or something you’d like to see?

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Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

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Southern Oregon Coast Road Trip: Oceanside Boondocking

Southern Oregon Coast Road Trip: Oceanside Boondocking

SOUTHERn Oregon Coast free boondocking by the coastThe Southern Oregon Coast drive was a perfect end to the entire Oregon coast road trip that I started in the latter part of August and ended in September for a total of three weeks.

We experienced quite a bit of fog traveling through the southern region of Oregon, so it made for an exciting drive and magical pictures and footage for the video from Bandon to Brookings, Oregon.

The topography is also starting to look more and more like what I remember from California with fewer trees and more rocks. The trees along the coast have that heavy windblown look – you know the kind where the tops of the trees have been shaped by the wind and slant inland.

We had a leisurely drive for the rest of the trip – nothing overwhelming or significant – just beauty all around us and taking in the cool breezes and sun.

Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

My New Travel Planner

When Heather and Nick, from Vicaribus, and I left Bandon, Heather had the entire rest of the Southern coast planned out. You know me, I don’t plan very well these days. I’m getting better, but she had found some great places along the way to visit, so Heather became my new travel planner for the day.

I followed them in their Vicaribus all the way to Brookings, stopping off at waysides, parks, beaches, and even a dinosaur park. The dinosaur park was pretty fun – I must admit – even though I was unsure of it. Heather gave me her disclaimers that it was a total tourist trap – yep – but it would be fun.

I thought it would be a park with dinosaur footprints – kind of a historical marker area – nope – fake dinosaurs spread amongst beautiful tall trees with some education mixed in between. It was a blast actually and so glad we stopped.

Dinosaur Park

So while these weren’t the real dinosaurs, it provided an enjoyable time, and I found a beautiful necklace in the gift shop with a tree pendant and a few tiny stones on one chain.

Port of Port Orford – Boat Haul Outs and the Beach

One of the first stops was at the Port of Port Orford to walk on the beach and watch boats hauled out of the water.

Miles and Lily ran like crazy after each other on the beach – flipping sand everywhere with tails wagging and ears flopping. What a life for a dog. Lily makes me so happy and to see her having fun too is even better. She and Miles became best buds during this trip.

Look how their legs are in unison!

Lily and Miles Running

Miles and Lily running

It was quite interesting to see them haul out boats from below in the water. This crane would drop with a hook and then pull the boat up from out of the water. I couldn’t tell how they hooked it to the boat though. All of those vertical black tubes are to protect the boat as it rises in the air.

Boat Haul Out

Port Orford fog

Port of Port Orford Beach

Quest to Find an Overnight Spot Again

Today would be our last night in Southern Oregon, and we wanted to find a beautiful overlook off the ocean and beach.

Oregon, you didn’t disappoint.

As I followed Vicaribus through the twisting turns that brought us from shore to inland, we stopped at waysides to soak up the beauty and the fog rolling in.

Hymer and Ocean Fog

Hymer and Ocean

These rocky coves with colorful water and fog settling along the coast are breathtaking. I’m mesmerized by the beauty when I look at this picture – which looks like it was taken in Hawaii. Well, I think it does, but I haven’t been to Hawaii – yet – so I’m only going off of pictures I’ve seen of Hawaii.

Southern Oregon Coast fog off of water

Southern Oregon Coast Dunes

Southern Oregon Coast Dunes 2

Finally, we found a place to park for the night. It was a very, very large overlook, well off the highway – which I like – and a trail down to the beach.

Southern Oregon Coast Boondocking

It was still early in the day when we arrived, and more people showed up to surf, take pictures, and hang out and talk with us. We met a guy who is from Ontario and had just made a trip up to Alaska in his truck and converted cargo trailer. He was traveling down the coast as well and then back up to Canada.

Oregon Coast Boondocking Trail to Beach

That’s one of the joys of RVing full-time is meeting so many people on the road, and I get to hear their stories. Some are full-time some are just out for a quick adventure. Either way, I love being able to talk with them and share in the delight of travel and how it makes us all so happy.

It’s a vast difference from my days of working in an office building or even working remotely in my home and doing the same thing day-after-day. I never know where this journey will lead or who it will bring into my life.
Free Boondocking on Southern Oregon Coast

How do you like the hat? I think it works for its intended purpose. Somehow it brings me joy. I seem to smile bigger too! Lily looks a bit grumpy though.

Lily and Amber

Oregon Sky at Night

As the fog rolled away, the sky became black with night, and the moon was shining brightly. I stepped outside into the blackness to let Lily out for her last potty before bedtime only to shed a tear for the beauty in front of me.

I tried to get a picture, but iPhones don’t work on capturing the night sky that well and my astrophotography is awful. I seriously need to learn this skill.

The sky was so clear, and you could see every star, including the Milky Way.

The moon was shining off of the water.

There was a slight breeze.

Stillness everywhere except for the ocean water crashing below.

I’m in awe of this moment. It felt incredible. Empowering. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the night sky like this off of the ocean where it’s so clear.

It reminds me of being at my grandmother’s house in West Texas (minus the ocean of course) as a little girl and laying down in the grass at night and gazing at the sky above. The town she lived in was so small and hardly any city lights so you could clearly see the stars.

I look back at those moments with fondness – like I am now in Oregon – in complete and utter gratitude.

Last Day on Oregon Coast

Today was a speedy trip from our perfect overnight spot, which, by the way, had 5 bars of AT&T cell signal. So this was a HUGE plus!

The fog and marine layer were incredibly thick this morning as we traveled to Brookings for the last leg of the Southern Oregon Coast road trip.

Haystack rocks loomed in the distance in ocean waters and the fog circled its peaks. The sun was trying to shine through, but the fog smothered it a bit in some areas.

Southern Oregon Rocks in Ocean

Southern Oregon Coast Haystack Rocks

Southern Oregon Haystack Rocks Fog

Arizona Beach

Arizona Beach 2

After stopping at multiple waysides to gawk at the beauty and snap some pictures, I made it to Brookings, Oregon which wasn’t such a great place to find free overnight camping.

It’s a busy little town, and the one place that seems to be okay to park at overnight was the Fred Meyer grocery store, but it was incredibly busy and crowded, and I didn’t feel like staying there.

So I opted to keep moving, saying bye to Vicaribus, and moving on towards Crescent City, California so I could make my way back inland to Eugene, Oregon.

We still had one more veterinarian appointment for Lily on her tail wound before we left the area.

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Have you been to the Oregon coast? What are some recommendations for future travel on the coast?

Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Road Trip Report & Map

Southern Oregon Coast Road Trip

Take a look at all of the places I’ve been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 83

Average Miles per Gallon: 14.2

Road Conditions: Roads were clear – no issue.

Weather Conditions: Pretty chilly at night with quite a bit of wind off of the ocean, but during the day it was in the 70’s with some fog the further south we drove.

Time of Year Visited: Mid-September

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Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Overlook off of highway 101 Ophir, Oregon / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Port of Port Orford beach / $0
  • Battle Rock Wayside Park / $0
  • Prehistoric Gardens / $12 for adults

RV Accessibility:

  • You can be in any RV at most of these locations and in all the overlooks.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  Good AT&T cell signal in most areas.

Park Pass:  N/A

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Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

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Central Oregon Coast Road Trip: Oceanside Boondocking

Central Oregon Coast Road Trip: Oceanside Boondocking

How to find free boondocking Central Oregon CoastWhile I loved the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway quest drive, so far the Central Oregon Pacific Coast Highway road trip has been my favorite in Oregon that travels between Pacific City to Bandon. It’s just different.

The topography is changing where there are more dunes, cliffs, and numerous places to boondock off of the highway with a prime ocean view.

Oh, and there are whales everywhere! I’m not joking. I’ve been whale watching before in the San Juan Islands in Washington and saw whales up close, but not in the numbers that I saw in Central Oregon.

Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Searching for Boondocking Oceanside

After leaving Pacific City, I stopped along the beaches to soak up some sun rays every so often along the coast and walk the beaches. The weather was fantastic, around the mid-70s with a strong breeze.

I was meeting up with Heather and Nick again from Vicaribus, and we were trying to decide on a place to stop and overnight. We were both in Lincoln City doing a little shopping before continuing down the coast, but since I finished up early, I decided to keep going and scout out an overnight camping spot.

IOverlander app has quite a few great places for finding free spots to park or boondock – so I was using that to find some places, but since we knew we could park off of the ocean at an overlook, as long as it didn’t have a sign stating “no overnight parking” than we could stay there.

The app showed that you could stay at Boiler Bay overlook; however, when I arrived it’s part of the state park system is now only for day use. It would have been an amazing spot. Look at the scenery around that area.

Boiler Bay Oregon Ocean

Someone said they had spotted a whale, but I stayed there for about 30 minutes and never saw any.

Boiler Bay Oregon Sunset

Boiler Bay Oregon

Boiler Bay Oregon3

Time to move on and keep searching.

Depoe Bay, Oregon Boondocking

I ended up finding a beautiful spot a little off the highway on this small road just off of Highway 101 that overlooked the ocean. It was just past Depoe Bay. Now, it could be subjective on whether this was allowed or not. Here’s why.

When I first pulled in, I saw no signs whatsoever for no overnight parking. I swear I looked. So texted I Heather and Nick and told them of the spot and they proceeded to meet me there. However, as soon as they came in, they saw a sign further down that small road stating no overnighting. We weren’t sure if that was for past that sign, because there were no signs on the way into that overlook nor inside the overlook.

So we collectively decided to risk it and stay. The worst that could happen is we get a knock on the door at night from a state trooper. That said, none of us like the idea of illegally parking and like to follow the rules and laws. This was just a bit of a gray area and it was getting late.

They pulled their converted skoolie bus into the spot below, and I parked in front of them for the night.

Ocean Boondocking Depoe Bay

Look at this sunset! I was in awe. I had the van door wide open with the wind whipping around and letting that ocean breeze in.

Depoe Bay Sunset 1

What was truly amazing were the whales. I counted at least three whales at one time. Mostly I caught their tail and sometimes I could see their body as they blew through their blowhole and shot seawater up into the air. It was so amazing. I stood out there for at least two hours watching them.

Depoe Bay Whales

It was great to chat with Heather and Nick in our respective vehicles while Heather popped us some fresh popcorn on her gas stove.

Depoe Bay Sunset

Depoe Bay Sunset 2

When it was finally time to go to sleep, the highway noise had quieted down a bit, and all you could hear was the wind blowing up against the RV (it was strong this night as well) and the ocean crashing against the rocks below.

Depoe Bay Sunset Boondocking

Since this was my first night sleeping on a pull-out and because I was a little concerned we might get a knock on the door, I kept waking up to vehicles driving over to the other side of the overlook. I guess they thought it was okay to park there too. I could barely see anything though outside because it was so dark.

I, however, am in love. What a beautiful sight to fall asleep to and then to wake up to in the morning. It was so peaceful, and a truly beautiful moment I’ll never forget.

The Internet wasn’t so great in that location, and I desperately needed to upload a video to YouTube, so I ended up leaving earlier that morning to find a great spot to work for the day. I typically am looking for something in nature, so when I take breaks, I can get out and walk in around the trees, grass, and beaches.

Yaquina Lighthouse & Whale Watching

I didn’t have to drive long before I spotted a lighthouse just north of Newport, so I pulled in to see how good the cell signal was for that area. It turned out to have a great cell signal and was on top of a cliff looking over onto the ocean, rock formations, tidepools, and WHALES!

The Yaquina lighthouse is listed on BLM so all you need is an America the Beautiful annual pass (the National Park pass) to get in for free or it’s $7 per day at the time of this posting.

Yaquina Lighthouse 2

I was so distracted by the beauty and the whales that it was an hour later before I started working and loading the YouTube video.

Yaquina Lighthouse Cliffs

Yaquina Lighthouse Tidepools

Just off of this area, were whales swimming in between the rocks. I presume they were fishing for food as you would see them dive under and also blow out through their blowhole.

Yaquina Lighthouse Tidepools2

These creatures are so beautiful to watch. Even though you aren’t that close to them, it’s still mesmerizing! If you watch my video on it, I actually catch them in action many times.

Yaquina Lighthouse Tidepools3

Yaquina Lighthouse

Later in the afternoon when I was wrapping up my work, I needed to stop for groceries, so I scouted out the local Fred Meyer grocery store. If you’ve never been to a Fred Meyer, it’s a cross between a grocery store and a Target with great prices on clothes, especially the name brand stuff, kitchen, housewares, and more. Plus they have a huge section for natural foods and organics which I love.

This Fred Meyer was crazy big. It was actually two stories tall with an elevator to the second floor. I had to actually shoot some small video footage of it for Nick since he hadn’t been to a Fred Meyer yet.

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

It was time to scout out another spot for the night. Nick and Heather were doing their own sightseeing, and we thought we would find a place at Cape Perpetua for the night in an overlook. They had already gone ahead and were looking for a place to stay while I finished grocery shopping.

While there were some incredible overlooks to stay at, the cell signal was nonexistent on both Verizon and AT&T, and we both needed to work. I, however, didn’t realize they had turned around and gone back to Yachats, the town before Cape Perpetua, until after I traveled all the way to Florence where the next cell signal came through on my phone. Well just before Florence.

Boondocking in Florence, Oregon

So I ended up in Florence on my own and found a couple of pull-offs that were beautiful and overlooked the dunes, but as you can see below, the pull-off is on a steep incline, and I was not level by a longshot! Usually, I don’t mind a little bit of unlevel, but this was pretty bad on the inside of the van.

Hymer Aktiv Florence Oregon

Florence Oregon Sunset

Florence Oregon Dunes

So, therefore, I continued and found this boondocking spot off of the Siuslaw River that is just on the other side of the dune jetty and the ocean. If the dunes weren’t so high, I should have been able to see the ocean.

Florence Oregon Boondocking on River 2

The spot was actually really beautiful off of the river where people fished, and kayakers paddled along the river. It’s directly off of a small road so there was some road noise but it got quieter as the night went on.

Florence Oregon Boondocking on River 3

Florence Oregon Fog

Florence Oregon River Boondocking Dunes2

Florence Oregon River Boondocking Dunes

Florence Oregon River Boondocking Dunes 3

I ended up staying off of the river for several days collectively; however Lily had an emergency.

Lily’s Vet Emergency

That night I saw Lily holding her tail weird and by weird I mean if it touched anything she would jump. I had seen her jumping like this when we were on the beach a couple of times in the last several days and had inspected her legs and body to make sure she was okay and didn’t see anything; however, I didn’t look at her tail tip.

Lily at Depoe Bay

On closer inspection, her tail tip looks raw. It was this black and reddish color with a small wound at the end. I have no idea how this happened to her, but she was in severe pain. I tried putting a pain reliever/antiseptic ointment on her, but she freaked out.

So after some searching for a vet in Florence, I thought it best to drive over to Eugene, Oregon inland to get her looked at first thing in the morning. I found a VCA Hospital and showed up when they opened. Even though they didn’t accept walk-ins at this location, they still helped me out and looked her over.

We weren’t sure if it was an allergy related issue or what was going on, but the vet seemed to think it might heal itself with an antifungal medication, some Omega fatty acid treatments, and another allergy shot in case it was related to allergy.

They ended up having to shave her tail to get a better look, and she completely freaked out in pain. It hurts my heart to see her go through this issue. So we’ll come back in several more weeks after we finish the Oregon coastline and do a follow-up visit with the doctor to make sure she’s improving.

Bullards Beach State Park Camping

After leaving the vet and heading back to Florence for a couple of more days, we all decided to head to Bullard’s Beach State Park for a couple of days to recharge, take some much needed hot showers and relax.

This was actually the first time I had paid for a camping spot since May when I was at the Mesa Verde campground in Colorado. It was pretty relaxing, quiet and there were great trails for walking.

The showers, on the other hand, were – meh – not so great. First, I’m short at 5’3, or 5’2 depending on the day you measure me, and I had to bend down to get my head under the shower nozzle. Also, it was an auto shut off push button shower, and the water was sometimes hot and sometimes barely hot. It wasn’t the greatest shower experience, but at least I was clean and felt refreshed.

Face Rock State Scenic View Point

Not too much further down from the state park is Face Rock State scenic viewpoint in Bandon, Oregon – which is also the end of the Central Oregon Pacific Coast Highway quest.

What a treat! Heather was our tour guide on this day as she had researched all the places to go along the way. If you look at the picture below you’ll see the massive rock in the front, but just to the right you’ll see another rock structure and on the right side of that rock is a profile of a face. Do you see it?

Face Rock State Park2

We were treated with this magnificent labyrinth that a local artist had created on the beach that morning. It made the day even more spectacular!

Face Rock State Park Art

Face Rock State Park Art2

Face Rock State Park8

Face Rock State Park Tide Pools

Face Rock State Park

Oregon Coast

I absolutely loved my road trip down the Central Oregon Coast, and only one more section, the Southern Oregon Coast road trip that will take place just after this one ends in Bandon, Oregon.

Have you traveled to the Oregon Coast? Did you do any boondocking for free off of the ocean?

Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Road Trip Report & Map

Central Oregon Coast Road Trip

Take a look at all of the places I’ve been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 170

Average Miles per Gallon: 14.6

Road Conditions: Roads were clear – no issue.

Weather Conditions: Pretty chilly at night with quite a bit of wind off of the ocean, but during the day it was in the 70’s. My kind of weather.

Time of Year Visited: Early September

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Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Overlook off of highway 101 Depoe Bay, Oregon / $0
  • Boondocking off of Siuslaw River in Florence, Oregon / $0
  • Camping World in Eugene, Oregon (during Lily’s emergency) / $0
  • Walmart – Coos Bay, Oregon / $0
  • Bullards Beach State Park in Bandon, Oregon / $31 per night for 2 nights

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Yaquina Lighthouse  / $0 with America the Beautiful annual pass
  • Pacific City, Oregon beaches
  • Lincoln City, Oregon beaches
  • Depoe Bay, Oregon
  • Newport, Oregon
  • Florence, Oregon
  • Bandon, Oregon

RV Accessibility:

  • You can be in any RV at most of these locations and in all the overlooks. The only exception would be the river boondocking possibly. Vicaribus parked there without any issues; however it is close to the road so I would be concerned about an RV being too wide and parking there.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  Decent cell signal in most areas except Cape Perpetua where there wasn’t a cell signal at all. AT&T was stronger than Verizon and you’ll definitely need a cell booster, like the weBoost that I use, to get a better signal if you’ll be working or watching movies.

Park Pass:  America the Beautiful annual pass

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Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

weBoost Cell Booster – A must have when traveling full-time especially if you work and are staying in areas outside of cities.

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School Bus Conversion Into Tiny Home on Wheels with Vicaribus

School Bus Conversion Into Tiny Home on Wheels with Vicaribus

School-bus-into-home (P)This summer I met Heather, Nick, and Miles, who owns a school bus conversion (also known as a skoolie bus )called Vicaribus, at the Xscapers convergence in Oregon and then we accidentally ended up on the Oregon coast at the same time and started traveling with each other all the way to California.

They converted a 1998 Thomas Vista school bus into their tiny home on wheels after completely gutting it and starting from scratch.

I was super impressed with their school bus conversion skills and how they were able to design a tiny home that suited their needs for Heather’s love of cooking in the kitchen and Nick’s need for a remote workstation.

Of course, you can’t forget Miles, their fur baby, who needs lots of room to play and jump around into their arms and lap. Seriously, Miles is the star of this conversion bus tour!

Tour their Vicaribus skoolie bus to see their school bus conversion and how they made a skoolie into a tiny home on wheels with solar panels and a composting toilet.

They have taken school bus living to a whole other level, so if you are looking into a school bus tiny house and want to do your own DIY skoolie conversion then check out Nick and Heather’s school bus home conversion.

School Bus conversions are becoming very popular since you can purchase a used school bus fairly cheaply and then perform your own DIY school bus conversion into your dream tiny home.

Whether you want to drive it around or keep it stationary is up to you but a great alternative for a home that has the outside prebuilt and then you only need to design and build out the inside.

Interview with Vicaribus – School Bus Conversion

As we neared the California border, I had to ask them if I could film their school bus conversion and interview them about life on the road so I could show you all how cool this bus is and also give you a glimpse in what you can do if you’re looking into tiny home living and traveling.

To see the whole interview I suggest watching the video, but I’ve paraphrased and summarized some areas to make it smoother for reading.

Amber:                   Okay, guys. You have heard me talk about Vicaribus a couple of times, Heather, Nick and Miles. We are going to do a school bus conversion tour with them today. They’re going to show you the inside and the outside, and talk to you about why they started down this road of full time traveling, and how they are actually able to do full-time travel and still make an income because they’re not retired yet.

Vicaribus Full

Why They Decided to Full-Time Travel in a School Bus Conversion

Amber:                   So this is Nick and Heather and Miles from Vicaribus. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourselves, why you decided to go full-time RVing, or busing?

Vicaribus Stairs

Nick:                         We were in Denver for a few years, and we had both done a good bit of travel. We decided it was time to maybe take it to the next step, the next level. We’d go full time for a while, and check out a lot of the West coast areas west of the Rockies that we hadn’t seen before. We actually never looked into RVs at all.

Heather:                 We went straight into the bus idea.

Nick:                         I think we saw it on YouTube, and then we said, “Yeah, that sounds fun. Let’s do that.”

Amber:                    That’s the non-traditional way of going into RVing.

Nick:                         I think we didn’t really check out our first RVs until we bought the bus and were building it out. We looked at RVs, and were pretty happy we decided to build our own out, because we didn’t know exactly what we wanted and how we wanted it so custom building was better for us. It’s been great.

Heather:                 We don’t even remember whose idea it was to live in a bus first. Whoever said it, the other person was immediately like, “Yup. Let’s do it.” Nobody needed to convince anybody, so we don’t know who thought of it, or how we came about the idea. It just kind of happened, and then we went full speed into it.

Amber:                    Well, it’s good that you both agreed on it.

Nick:                         No, there wasn’t a lot of convincing needed.

Deciding on the Custom Design

Amber:                    So who actually designed the inside, or was that a collaborative effort?

Heather:                 It was a collaborative effort of mostly me telling Nick what I wanted, and then him telling me whether or not it was possible, and me yelling at him a lot about me wanting the kitchen as big as possible, which is pretty much how it went. He did 95% of the manual labor, maybe even 98% of the manual labor.

Amber:                    Did you have any previous experience with building out, or custom work like this?

Nick:                         I’d done a few smaller projects, like woodworking stuff, and I’ve done a lot of stuff. I’ve always been pretty hands on, like figuring stuff out. It was another one of those figure it out as you go kind of things.

How They Came Up with Name of Their Skoolie Bus

Amber:                    That’s amazing. So tell us about the name of your bus, and your branding for it. You have a blog and YouTube channel?

Vicaribus Owners

Nick:                         Yes, both of those things. It’s Vicaribus, kind of like vicarious but with a b. The idea was – it was sort of our parents. I didn’t know anybody else that could live vicariously through our travels, so we share as much as possible. I don’t know if I asked Heather if she liked the name. It just popped into my head one day. I was like, “That’s the name of our bus!” I bought the website and started getting all the Instagrams and things set up. I was like, “By the way, our bus is Vicaribus.”

Heather:                 Yeah, I don’t think you asked me about it at all.

Nick:                         When you get a brilliant idea, you’ve just got to go for it. (Totally humorous statement from Nick!)

Outside School Bus Conversion Tour & Solar Panels

Amber:                    So you want to show us the outside of the bus now? Do you have solar panels? What kind of a bus it is, year?

Nick:                         So it’s a five window, 23 foot, Thomas Vista, 1998. We have two panels on the roof to combine solar of 330 watts. The very back is a large and spacious deck where we hang out and check out stars, or sunsets and stuff like that.

Custom Deck on Skoolie Bus Roof

Amber:                    So wait. You built a deck on the top of your bus?

Nick:                         Yeah, it was actually the first thing we did when we got it.

Amber:                    It’s the coolest feature, right? How do you get up there?

Vicaribus Deck Side

Nick:                         We have a collapsible ladder. It’s like a telescopic ladder, and it’s awesome.

Amber:                    That’s very cool. So the windows, are these the original windows?

Nick:                         Yeah. A lot of the bus conversions, the way they’re cut out, some of the windows are lock out. Seemed like a lot of work, and we wanted as much light and visibility as possible, so we left all the original windows in.

Solar Power System for Off-Grid Living

Amber:                    Your solar power, how much solar did you say?

Nick:                         It’s 330 watts of solar.

Amber:                    Does that seem to work for you?

Nick:                         It’s pretty good. We could probably go a little bit more now that we’re on the Pacific Northwest. We get a lot more cloudy here, foggy days. We have a 200 amp hour lithium battery, so it charges pretty quick and we can discharge pretty low. It’s pretty low space requirements for that battery. It does us pretty well. We haven’t had too much trouble with our set up.

Amber:                    That’s great. And inverter?

Nick:                         We have a 2000 watt charger inverter, so our power system, our battery can charge through shore power, alternator, or the solar. I think the longest we’ve been on just solar is about nine days. We usually try to plug in every week or so, about once a week, or less if possible. We get a nice, full, deep charge.

Amber:                    Yeah. Do you have a generator?

Nick:                         We do not have a generator. So far it’s been fine without it. I’m sure there’s probably been a couple instances where it would have been nice to have, but we didn’t want to rely on that, and have somewhere to store it.

Amber:                    So because you don’t have a generator and you only have about nine days of power through solar, you’re boondocking what percentage of the time, versus being hooked into shore power?

Heather:                 Probably about 50/50 of having power or not having power, or being camped out or not being camped out. But even sometimes we’ll stay in a campground that’s dry camping, and we’re still using our solar in that situation.

Storage and Back Deck of School Bus

Amber:                    What’s the smiley face about?

Vicaribus Deck

Nick:                         It was a sticker I found on a Chinese website. I was ordering some stuff and decided to get a couple.

Amber:                    Nice.

Nick:                         I didn’t know where to put them, so I put one on the back of the bus and then one on our toilet.

Heather:                 This is all just storage.

Nick:                         It’s under the bed in the back.

Heather:                 Yeah, this is our bed, and then this is just all outdoor stuff and our utility stuff and our ladder and chairs and grill.

Amber:                    It’s pretty deep.

Heather:                 Windshield washer fluid, and the sticker Nick put on the wrong side of the window, so you can only see it from the inside.

Amber:                   Yeah, it looks pretty spacious.

Vicaribus Back of Bus

Heather:                 Yeah. That’s like most of our storage.

Amber:                    There’s the back side of the deck. What’s that up on the top left?

Nick:                         Surf board.

Amber:                    Surf board, eh?

Nick:                         Yeah. Picked that up since we hit the West coast. I didn’t know if I would, but after spending a weekend at a spot with a great break and no board, I decided I had to get one, so I went and found me owning one.

Heather:                 He’s used it six times already.

Nick:                         Yeah. I’ve caught 5 waves.

Traveling Sticker Collection and Art on the Side of Their Skoolie

Amber:                    Nice! Nice collection of stickers. This is every place you’ve been?

Heather:                 Every place that we’ve been that we bought a sticker at.

Vicaribus Stickers

Amber:                    Very cool.

Heather:                 Some of the ones on this end are some of our favorite places before we left. So right here starts our actual travel journey.

Amber:                    A lot of places.

Heather:                 All those in just under five months. We haven’t really been going slow.

Prior Travel Experience

Amber:                    So have you ever RV’d or traveled like this before?

Nick:                         I did probably, I guess, six or seven, eight years ago now? I lived in an old Ford panel van that I converted, that I lived in by myself for a couple of years, on and off a couple of years and traveled. Not nearly to the level as this thing, but I did that.

Heather:                 We’ve done a lot of just general travel and like cheap travel, and frugal international travel and all of that, but this is our first, really, RV experience.

Amber:                    And Miles’ first time?

Heather:                 Miles has grown up on the bus. He was an itty bitty puppy when we got the bus, so he was there for the whole conversion. He’s been living in it. He doesn’t really know life without the bus.

Inside of School Bus Conversion

Amber:                    All right. So they are going to show us the inside of the bus now.

Heather:                 People really like our stairs, for some reason.

Vicaribus Stairs-2

Amber:                    Why is that?

Heather:                 I don’t know, but any time we post a picture of them, people go crazy. They’re just stairs, so make sure you get lots of footage of them because that’s what the people will like.

Amber:                    I will. It’s going to be this thumbnail now on the video of the stairs. Oh, bottle opener. That’s important.

Heather:                 Bottle opener, although we tend to keep buying cans because they fit in the fridge better.

Kitchin of School Bus Conversion

Heather:                 You can pretty much see the whole bus now that you’re standing inside. We have a kitchen over here, and it’s currently in driving mode so there’s a bunch of crap in our sink. We have a two burner propane stove, and then this cabinet here is actually our refrigerator. It comes out in a drawer-

Vicaribus Hallway

Vicaribus Kitchen and Front of Bus

Heather:                 … and then we use screws that we put into the floor and against the door to prevent the fridge drawer from opening and kill us while we’re driving.

Amber:                    Yes, that’s important.

Amber:                    So the fridge is a freezer, or refrigerator, or both?

Vicaribus Refrigerator

Heather:                 It can be either one, but it can’t be both at the same time. We only use it as a refrigerator. It is directly wired into our 12 volt system and runs on the solar. The frame of the cabinets and the counters and all the general build-out we did ourselves, but then the cabinet faces we ordered from an online place that we just gave them our dimensions and the style we wanted. They shipped them to us, and then we painted them. They came as just a raw wood color, and then we put all the hardware on. Countertop is actually a door, and we painted it and sealed it so we completely made that ourselves. Can’t find anything like it anywhere. We even have a tile back splash, because why not?

Vicaribus Kitchen Counter

Amber:                    That’s real tile, or vinyl?

Heather:                 It is real tile- and the only part that’s cracking is the caulk where it connects to the counter, so tile holds up on bumpy, crazy roads. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Amber:                    It’s bound to happen with a moving home, right? It looks like you’ve got some nice lighting in here.

Living Area and Workstation in School Bus Conversion

Heather:                 We have some fun party lights.

Amber:                    Some fun lighting, yeah?

Heather:                 Everything is LED, so it doesn’t use a ton of energy.

Vicaribus Lights

Amber:                    And you have your couch.

Heather:                 It’s also super modular and multifunctional, so we can move the pillows, and then this piece is on wheels, and it moves out like this. Then there’s a table that comes up here, and then we have a dinette, or a workstation.

Amber:                    That converts pretty quickly too.

Heather:                 We can do this, and have a super comfy lounge.

Amber:                    Thank you, Vanna.

Vicaribus Workspace

Heather:                 Then our computer monitor is actually on one huge swivel arm, so it can come and be at the table to be a workstation, or it can sit in bed and be a tv. That’s the living area.

Amber:                    Living. Very functional, converts from living to dining all at the same time, or workstation, right, and office?

Heather:                 Or it’s long enough to sleep on.

Nick:                         A lounge.

Amber:                    Do you have many guests?

Nick:                         We’ve had a couple, or one?

Heather:                 We’ve had one person who spent three days sleeping here with us so far.

What Type of Toilet & Shower They Installed in School Bus Conversion

Amber:                    So what about your toilet situation. What kind of toilet do you have?

Heather:                 So our bathroom is behind these lovely mirrored doors that everyone thinks is a closet.

Amber:                    It does look like a closet.

Heather:                 But it’s the bathroom. You open it up, and we have one very happy Natures Head composting toilet.

Heather:                 So there’s where the other smiley face sticker ended up. We also designed it to be a wet bath with a shower and everything too, so the shower actually hooks in here, and the hot water heater is on the other side of the wall. It kind of comes through this little notch, but we don’t ever use it because it would deplete all of our water supply. Usually when we have water there’s better showers, and when we don’t have water we just stay stinky.

Vicaribus Composting Toilet

Nick:                         We find other ways to get clean.

Heather:                 We do stay clean, just not with our own shower.

Nick:                         When we say we haven’t used our shower, everybody’s like, “Oh my God! You don’t shower?” You can stay clean without showers.

Amber:                    For sure. So do you like the composting toilet? Have you had any issues with it? A Lot of people think that they smell really bad.

Heather:                 So it doesn’t smell at all. If anything, the pee smells worse than the number two, although we’ve figured out if you add a little vinegar that kind of takes away all the pee smell, so we don’t even really have problems with that anymore. Miles is attacking me, sorry. The most annoying thing is dumping the pee, because we have to do that almost every other day, but the number two section usually we’re only dumping about once a month, so that’s not bad at all. Then you’re just kind of bagging it and throwing it away, versus dealing with a black tank and poo spewing. I don’t know, horror stories. Neither one of us has actually used a black tank, but it sounds terrible.

Nick:                         Miles thinks it’s terrible.

Transitioning Cooking from Sticks-and-Bricks Home to School Bus

Heather:                 Miles agrees. So when we were outside, and I yelled at Nick about making the kitchen as big as possible the whole time we were designing it, it’s because I actually really, really like to cook. I’m not a person that uses every single burner and every single pot and pan in the kitchen when I cook, so switching to only two burners has been a little interesting. I still am able to make complete meals and delicious things. I just have to be a little more conscientious about how much pots and pans I’m using at once, and how many dishes I’m using.

Heather:                 We do have an instant pot in here too, so that helps too, because we can make a lot more one-pot meals in that, or half the meal can go in the instant pot, and half the meal can go on the stove. We do still cook in here pretty much every single day, and the two burners and the instant pot has been sufficient. I do have a food processor and an immersion blender and a nut chopper and all of that stuff too but in terms of actual cooking surfaces …

Amber:                    Have you found it to be relatively easy going from a traditional home to this, since you did make the kitchen bigger?

Heather:                 I think overall in terms of cooking it’s been an easy transition, but the thing I miss the most is having dishwasher.

Amber:                    Ah. Do you have an oven?

Heather:                 We don’t have an oven. No oven, no microwave. Just stove top, instant pot, and then we have a grill but we hardly ever use it.

What Changes Would You Make Now After Full-Time Living in the Bus

Amber:                    So now that you’ve been full time RVing about five months, is there anything that you would change about the conversion of your bus?

Nick:                         Aside from a few small adjustments to how we stored stuff and where we stored some things, we’ve been pretty dang happy with how it turned out. The main thing though, the one thing would probably be the shower bathroom. We spent a lot of time, effort and money trying to figure out how to set it up in the space we had and keep it waterproof so we could use the shower in there. Since we’ve never used the shower, that was such a lot of wasted effort, and time and money, so next time we probably wouldn’t do that. But otherwise, we’ve been really happy with how everything worked out.

Vicaribus Adventure Pics

Vicaribus Plants on Dash

Planter pots are bolted to a board that is bolted to the dash.

Heather:                 It’s been really good. I think the whole time he was building it, his goal was how can I build this the easiest way as possible? Then I would come back and be like, “But how is this functional, and how are we going to use this every day?” We really did think about the day to day functionality of it the whole time we were building it, and so we knew exactly how we were going to use the space when we moved in it, versus moving into something that just already was built out, and we had to figure it out. We built it to be what we needed. I think that kind of made a huge difference there. One thing, though, the whole time we were building it, we wanted it to be bigger. Now that we live in it, we think we could live in something smaller.

Amber:                    How long is this bus?

Heather:                 It’s 23 feet long on the outside, but it’s about 15 feet from the stairs back.

How They Afford Full-Time Travel and Work Remotely

Amber:                    Okay, so that’s still a good size, 23 feet. All right. Let’s talk about how you are able to travel full time. Obviously, people need money coming in somehow. Are you independently wealthy?

Nick:                         Yes.

Amber:                    Are you? Oh, good. Okay.

Nick:                         No. No.

Amber:                    I need to travel with you guys more often.

Heather:                 If only!

Amber:                    I know.

Nick:                         We saved up a good chunk of money to help us get through this year of travel, or however long we go. Heather is a physical therapist taking a little sabbatical, while I do this versatile segment. I’m still working part-time as a software engineer maybe like 10, 12 hours a week, but maybe bump it up soon. It’s been rough to keep the gas in the tank and bills paid.

Amber:                    What are the top three things that you think that are must-haves in order to work remotely?

Nick:                         It probably just comes down to connectivity. We have two hot spots. We have an AT&T hotspot, a Verizon hotspot. We only used a little extra directional antenna for those. We picked up a little more signal until recently, like four and a half months in, we decided it was time to get a weBoost so we could boost our cell signal. That’s actually kind of really handy the week we’ve had it, but number one, definitely, connectivity.

Amber:                    How has your connectivity been since you got the weBoost?

Nick:                         Definitely better.

Heather:                 You’ve done a few different speed tests where we’re getting five to seven times the speed with the weBoost, so that’s definitely worth it.

Nick:                         Yeah. It was taking signals that were probably not usable for the stuff we needed to do, and made them workable, for sure.

Amber:                    What else would you say about the other two?

Nick:                         Flexible clients. The client I work with is on the East coast, and we are now Pacific coast, so the time zone difference makes it a little more challenging. Plus our travel schedule where we can disappear for a couple days in the middle of nowhere and we spend half the day traveling, or half the day doing all this stuff outside, you’ve got to have a client … At least in the kind of business I do, you need a client that’s a little flexible for that kind of thing.

Vicaribus Inside

Nick:                         Headphones.

Amber:                    Why headphones?

Nick:                         So you can tune out the rest of the world such as your other two bus mates, and really get in the zone.

Amber:                    So Heather, you are a physical therapist. Do you work on the road?

Heather:                 So right now I am taking a sabbatical, so I stopped working three days before we hit the road, maybe? I think I had a weekend to get the bus packed up. I have not been working on the road, but the plan is to work sometime next year. As a physical therapist, you can do travel contracts, and they usually are 13 weeks-ish, so about three months. We kind of hunker down for three months’ work, replenish the bank account, and then go back to traveling. We’ll do that as often as we need the income from it, also just to keep up my skills and not just never work again.

How You Can Connect with Vicaribus

Amber:                    Well, I just want to thank you guys so much for showing me your bus, and talking to me about how you guys got started traveling full time. If people want to get a hold of you or get in touch with you to ask you any questions, or just to follow you, how would they do that?

Nick:                         That’s pretty easy. We are everywhere that you can find anyone under the name Vicaribus. We have vicaribus.com, that’s our blog, and we keep track of where we’ve been, and what we’re doing, and put up photos and stuff, and a lot of little posts. We are on Instagram under Vicaribus, Facebook under Vicaribus, and YouTube under Vicaribus.

Amber:                    All right. Thanks, guys.

Vicaribus at Face Rock

Vicaribus Social Media

  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vicaribus
  • Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vicaribus/
  • YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzT9iv9nxED5pQoKAf25PmQ
  • Website: http://www.vicaribus.com

Have you thought of a school bus conversion to travel in or build out a tiny home? What are your thoughts on this idea?

Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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YOU'RE INVITED TO JOIN THE INSIDER CREW

Kick off with the Story Chasing Insider Crew where you can join a private community with others learning how to travel, RV, or who want to be a part of the fun.

  • You can join the live stream videos to ask anything you want.
  • Early access to video content and bloopers.
  • Be invited to private group meet-ups.
  • Gain access to photos and videos I don't share on social media.
  • Access to live real-time updates.
  • ....and more.
Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway Part II

Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway Part II

Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway Road TripThe best way to describe the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway drive is beaches, sand, and haystack rocks everywhere. That may sound weird to say “beaches everywhere” when you’re on a coast, but let me explain. Sometimes coastal areas aren’t always accessible and have been overrun with tourist attractions, that, in my opinion, take away from the natural beauty of the area. This isn’t the case with the Northern Oregon coast. Sure, there are a few tourist spots along the coast, but not many. I love being able to pull off to the side of the road and gaze at the ocean below or hike down to the beach where Lily runs like crazy through the sand. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time on this quest drive and had so much fun exploring the towns, the beaches, and meeting people along the way. Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Leaving Astoria, Oregon

Due to rain in the morning, I got a late start leaving Astoria, Oregon – which was Part 1 of this quest drive on the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway. Since I would be filming the coastline, I wanted more sunshine, preferably, to take pictures and document my travels, which is why I waited. So I didn’t leave Astoria until about 5:00 pm to start the drive south. I stopped off at the Fort Stevens State Park to empty all the tanks and fill up on fresh water then continued down Highway 101 with the first stop being Seaside, Oregon.

Seaside, Oregon

Seaside is right off the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway and just minutes from the beach. It’s a fairly populated area with quite a few touristy things like bike rentals, four-wheel cart rentals, the boardwalk along the beach dotted with shops, restaurants, and condos. Seaside Oregon Boardwalk One of the things I love about Oregon is the ability to bring your dog with you on the beach. I haven’t seen a beach yet that didn’t allow dogs on leash. That’s a huge plus in my opinion because though I love the coastal parts of California too, many times you aren’t allowed to have dogs on the beaches or even in some parks. When I was in Washington along the coast, you were allowed to bring dogs there as well so huge props to Oregon and Washington for being dog-friendly! Seaside Oregon Beach A noticeable difference between Washington and Oregon is the coastal topography is changing quickly. In Washington there are evergreens and trees almost up to the very edge of the cliffs overlooking the beaches; however in Oregon, you do see trees in some areas, but it’s the dunes – sometimes covered in tall grass – that make up the topography by the shoreline. Oregon Dunes

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Next stop is Cannon Beach to visit the infamous haystack rocks which were also made famous in the Goonies movie. For those who gave me so much crap about not watching the Goonies before actually filming Astoria – I finally watched it. I can check that off my bucket list now. Haha… After Google Maps sent me down a very narrow residential street that did put me right in front of the main haystack rock, I had to turn around and find the beach to access the haystack rock. There wasn’t an access point on that street, but I tell you those people who owned homes right there must have paid a fortune for their houses with that view. It’s pretty fantastic. There’s RV parking in town as well, and then you can walk over to the beach. I didn’t want to take an RV spot since I can fit my Hymer Aktiv into standard parking spaces, so I circled around onto another street and found a great place fairly close the entrance of the beach. The sun was starting to get lower in the sky which made for an incredibly beautiful view of the beach, the ocean, and the haystack rocks. Cannon Beach It was pretty windy, so my hair was all over the place as I tried to snap a selfie with the haystack rock in the background. This was the best I could do. Cannon Beach - Amber Cannon Beach Seagulls I didn’t stay for too long as Lily, and I needed to keep moving so we could find a spot to sleep overnight.

Arcadia Beach

I met up with friends from the Xscapers Convergence who just happened to be on the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway as well. Heather, Nick, and their sweet dog Miles live in a converted school bus, affectionately called Vicaribus that they custom-built on the inside. I might have a van tour with them soon. Hint hint. Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting We were all headed the same direction, so we ended up hanging out down the Oregon Coast sporadically as our schedules matched up. This is one of the things I love about RVing. You seem to find friends everywhere, and you already have so much in common with RVing that it’s easy to make friends along the way. Arcadia Beach is just super incredible with the wood plank stairs down the side of the cliff to the beach, haystack rocks, tons of sand for Lily to run on (you have to watch the video of her running), and another spectacular sunset. Arcadia Beach Sunset 2 Arcadia Beach Sunset The beach was pretty deserted too. Only the 3 of us and we saw one other couple later. Arcadia Beach Arcadia Beach Sunset 3 Arcadia Beach 2 Lily was all over the beach. I had such a great time just watching her run all over the place and enjoy being off leash so she could run everywhere and kick up sand behind her. She makes me smile as I see her have so much joy from this playground of sand. Lily Running on Arcadia Beach Lily Running on Arcadia Beach 3 Lily Running on Arcadia Beach 2

Finding a Place to Overnight

The sun was setting fast, and the marine layer started to roll in pretty quickly so I figured I should start looking for an overlook to spend the night. That was my initial plan, to find an overlook that didn’t have a sign stating “no overnight camping.” All through the Manzanita area of the Oregon Coast, there were these overlooks I could have stayed, but I got cold feet because I thought highway patrol would show up and knock on my door. I could have had this view, but no, I chickened out and kept moving. Oregon Coast Pull off I did find out later from an Oregon State Park ranger that it’s okay to stay there and police wouldn’t bother us. Now I know for the future! I ended up finding a place a the Blue Herron Cheese Company in Tillamook, Oregon. They are part of Harvest Hosts, but also allow overnights even if you aren’t a member of Harvest Hosts. Blue Herron Cheese Company 2 Blue Herron Cheese Company sits on some land off of Highway 101 on a farm with an extensive pasture area for you to park your RV. At one point in time, I think I saw about 15 different rigs and most nights were 2-5 rigs. I ended up staying several nights so I could work and also host my first live stream video on YouTube. It was important for the live stream to have a good Internet connection and this place did. Blue Herron Cheese Company I also ended up purchasing about $50 worth of items in their store and cafe like sparkling wine in a can (never even knew this existed and it was pretty tasty) which is perfect for the van, rosemary sea salt, a few decorations, and a salad from their cafe. It’s a neat place with chickens, goats, lamas, and other farm life running around. I recommend this place if you’re ever on the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway. It’s free too and also nice if you partake of their goodies inside.

Pacific City, Oregon – End of the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway

After staying several days in Tillamook, Oregon – I headed towards the last stop on the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway, before continuing to the Central Oregon Pacific Coast Highway quest trail. Pacific City is a vibrant little beach town, and let me tell you, the sand was not very compact in many of the areas that they allowed you to drive onto to in order to access the beach. I saw multiple vehicles that were stuck in the sand and airing down their tires to get out, revving their engines to get through that thick layer of sand without stopping so they wouldn’t get stuck again, and park rangers digging out sand from around car tires. Lily and I just walked down the path instead. I didn’t even want to deal with that mess and take the chance of getting stuck again. We saw more haystacks and a huge dune – more prominent than I’ve ever seen on the coast – right there on the beach. Pacific City Dune Pacific City Rock Dune Rock Pacific City Beach Pacific City Beach Rock 2 I caught this on video where a kayaker started on the beach and kept inching his way out into the water to catch a wave and thrust him further out into the ocean. I loved watching him maneuverer through the water and navigate his best route amongst the waves crashing onto the beach. Pacific City Beach Kayacker What a great end to our Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway quest drive! I’ve been able to watch sunsets across the ocean waters. I’ve watched people kayak out into the ocean. Dogs were running on the beaches. Waves were crashing against the rocks. Lily was kicking up dirt as she bounces and runs through the sand. Met up with friends along the road. Met new friends throughout the quest drive. I smelled the salty air from the ocean. What a great quest drive! I love the Oregon coast and am just taking my time traveling down it and enjoying the ride. Have you been on the Oregon coast? What places would you recommend to visit? Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Road Trip Report & Map

Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Trail Take a look at all of the places I’ve been on: Full map of all my travels Miles: 95 Average Miles per Gallon: 15.5 Road Conditions: Roads were clear and well maintained. Weather Conditions: Cool at night around 40s and days were 60s-70s on average while I was there in the later part of August. Time of Year Visited: Late August

Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 
  • Blue Herron Cheese Company – Tillamook, Oregon / $0
Places Visited/Cost:
  • Seaside, Oregon / $0
  • Cannon Beach, Oregon / $0
  • Tillamook, Oregon / $0
  • Pacific City, Oregon/ $0
RV Accessibility:
  • You can drive this route in any RV without any problems until you get onto some of the coastal residential roads where streets narrow and there are no turnarounds.
Cell Phone Signal Strength:  Had full signal throughout the quest drive.

Park Pass:  N/A


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot. Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings. Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone. AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route. Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling. SaveSave
August 2018 Income Report – How I Made $4,200 Traveling Full-Time

August 2018 Income Report – How I Made $4,200 Traveling Full-Time

Last month, July 2018, was my first monthly income report and I was so nervous to publish it, but you all were amazing and so encouraging and seemed to garner some value out of it, so I’m now posting my August 2018 income report that shows some incredible growth.

Last month I decided to start teaching what you all are asking me to video. My background is in Accounting and Finance and what better way to use it then to teach on financing a full-time travel lifestyle. I figured the best way to show you all how to have this kind of life is to be the story. I’m the experiment, and you can learn from my mistakes and my successes.

In my post on How to Make Money Online Traveling in an RV and the video on YouTube, I announced a huge change that I made in my life.

After traveling for a year, full-time, I wanted more freedom, and I was working 60-80 hours a week. I was considerably stressed even though I love this company that I worked for – but the pace was starting to get to me, and I just felt like I needed a change. I was documenting my travels on the blog and YouTube and was able to tap into my creative side again – something I hadn’t used in a while – and it felt great and nourishing to my soul.

I took the BIG LEAP and quit so I can focus my attention on my endeavors in business – like building my online business and coaching/consulting practice. Even though I was working remotely this whole time – I still felt that I needed a change.

Now I’m even more location independent because I don’t always have to stress about making sure there is an Internet connection – even though I depend on it for my own business – at least for a couple of days. I can relax more and take in the landscape in places that are more remote and not feel like I need to rush through it to make sure I’m available for my job.

It’s exciting, thrilling, and a little nerve-wracking, but I feel thrilled with my decision and am pushing forward!

Why Am I Sharing My August 2018 Income Report?

Sharing what I earn each month and from what sources will not only allow me to document my income but also to see the growth or where I need to make adjustments. It’s challenging to me to see how far I can push myself each month to be creative and reach my goals.

I have a vision in my head of what I want to create, but that also means listening to you, the Story Chasing viewers, to get your feedback and understand more of what you desire in order fulfill your dream experience.

I want to be the example, the experiment, to you all so you can see that you can also accomplish your desires. Who knows how long it will take me to reach my overall goal of replacing my former income, but as long as I don’t quit, I don’t see how I can’t win at this little experiment.

Each month I’ll post in the income report:

  • Monthly earnings for the month
  • Percentage of increase/decrease month-over-month
  • Sources of income (when I’m able to be transparent)
  • Monthly and annual goals
  • Growth opportunities
  • Successes

I hope by posting my income report that it provides you with some inspiration as to what’s possible for you and your journey. My biggest hope is that I can share with you all a different lifestyle that’s not necessarily the “social norm,” but that is entirely enriching and makes me feel more alive than I’ve ever felt. This is why I named my blog and YouTube channel Story Chasing.

It makes me pretty happy to create new stories and moments in my life and fill my brain with these special memories of my travels and the people who I’ve met along the way.

August 2018 Income Report – Working Remotely While Traveling Full Time

July was my first month after quitting my job so the August 2018 income report will be my second income report since starting to work full-time in my own business while also traveling full-time.

I have the StoryChasing.com blog and also the YouTube channel – which by the way, if you like what you see on my YouTube channel, please hit that subscribe button and click on the notification bell so you’ll know when I upload a video each week.

My Goals and Business Insights for the August 2018 Income Report

After taking some rest time in July, the month after I quit my job, I decided I should probably get busy and start accomplishing more in August. I mean, I can’t be a slacker when I just quit my job!

Well, I guess I could be a slacker, but then I wouldn’t fulfill my goals, my dreams, my desires – so – time to get moving lady!

August 2018 Income Report Video Goal

In July I was producing one video a week and a blog post which can be extremely time-consuming in the learning phase. It still takes me about 16 hours sometimes to finish a video and blog post from beginning to end. However, I had this goal for August that I would start creating two videos a week where Sunday will be all RV and travel related while Workshop Wednesdays will be about answering those questions on how to fund a full-time travel lifestyle or just generally how to make money online.

I was nervous to take this leap, because of the time factor of producing one video and blog post, but I was up for the challenge. Except I didn’t do so well at it.

I think I had two weeks where I produced two videos, but dang it’s exhausting, and I don’t want to do it. I felt too much pressure by it and felt like I was going right back into working that 60-80 hour work week that I just got rid of in June. My whole goal for quitting is enjoying life more, and I wasn’t enjoying it with producing that many videos along with all the other aspects of the business.

So, I’ve relinquished this goal and gave it a send-off into the ethers. I feel much better now. I still want to produce more content for you all, but it will be sporadic rather than planned, except for the once a week video that comes out every Wednesday or Thursday. I’m still playing with these two days to see which is better to publish content for you all.

YouTube Subscriber Goal

My goal for August was to have over 5,000 subscribers on YouTube.

For the 5,000 subscriber goal, I didn’t succeed at this goal as a final number; however, you all came through, and I gained 566 viewers for an ending total of 4,331 subscribers on YouTube.

So not a loss.

I’m so happy with that number. Again, I’m going to keep on pushing through, producing content that you all can connect with, I hope, and numbers will continue to grow.

Free Mini-Course Goal

My goal for August was to put together a free mini-course for the blog. At the time, I wasn’t sure what the free mini-course topic would be, but now I’ve nailed it down to one of the biggest questions I get surrounding RV expenses, budgeting, and how to live cheaply without blowing your budget.

I launched the Free 4-Day Mini-Course Budgeting for Full-Time Travel which includes 4 modules + a bonus module on my expenses for RVing, includes my budget for you to download, a budget template for you to work on your budget, ways to save money and slash your budget so you can travel more freely. First, I walk you through developing your travel style, so you’ll know what expenses to budget and then show you how to apply that style to your budget.

     Story Chasing Course Curriculum 2

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

This was a labor of love and a massive project I got to check off my task list. Not only did I accomplish this goal, you all signed up quickly, over 100 of you, and devoured the information. Look at these comments from the students:

I’m full of joy over your participation and how much you all like the course!

Story Chasing Insider Crew on Patreon Goal

Lastly, my goal was to hard launch the Story Chasing Crew site with Patreon as a way for loyal readers and subscribers to gain more access to all that’s happening at Story Chasing like:

  • Monthly live streams
  • Patron only videos and clips from outtakes to deleted scenes and raw footage of what it’s like to live in 100 square feet.
  • Exclusive access feed
  • Priority comments to Patrons
  • Invitations to group meet-ups
  • Your name in credits on each video
  • Voting on Polls to shape the story on the blog and channel
  • Monthly postcards from travels around North America
  • One-on-One chat sessions

With not a moment to spare, I announced the Story Chasing Insider Crew page at the end of my Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway video with a bonus to join the live stream call the following Saturday to discuss the reward levels and get your feedback. Once again you guys blew me away! I had so much feedback during the live stream and afterward.

If you haven’t signed up, it’s not too late. I’ll be holding a Story Chasing Insider Crew live stream only on Patreon for all who have signed up towards the end of September.

If you’re new to my blog, here’s a little bit about me and what I do.

I’m Amber, and I started StoryChasing.com and my YouTube channel last year in the second quarter of 2017 after selling my home and everything I own to travel full-time in an RV. When I first started out traveling, I had no idea where I was going, and then I came across a book called National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways. What a great way to see the country and learn about the areas around, so I started a quest to accomplish all 300 highways and byways – with no end date by the way.

From the beginning, I documented my travels across the United States and Canada, through photos and video, so I could show that I’ve completed all 300 highways and byways. I’m the sole traveler, writer and videographer, marketer, editor, administrator, accountant, driver and whatever other hat is thrown my way in this adventure.

I travel with my fur baby, Lily, who is a 10 lb Whippet, Chi, Rat Terrier mix and a fantastic traveler with her own car seat so she can see outside and be safe in her harness that clips into the seat.

Over the course of my travels, I get asked quite a bit if I’m fearful to travel solo. I even made a video about it and how I overcome fear. It’s been one of my more popular videos because I believe it addresses a fear that we all have – whether you’re a man or a woman – about being by yourself and living in this world without subjecting ourselves to the constant fear of others and media. I’ve discovered that the world out there is kinder and more beautiful than I anticipated and that I’m also much stronger than I ever imagined. I’ve conquered plenty of fears this year, but I believe those fears are just opportunities to overcome and the greatest success and reward are on the other side of that fear.

I have worked in some capacity in Accounting since I was 17 years old and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Accountancy and am a Certified Financial Crimes Investigator. Most of my career I was working in property management, construction, and real estate with the last company being a Private Equity Firm specializing in acquisitions and development of multi-family housing where I was the Director of Asset Management Accounting. Though I loved my job, the company, and the people I worked with, I knew it was time for a change and to see what I could do with my own company.

I’ve been blogging on and off for over eight years and have created many websites and blogs and learned quite a bit about making money online. I just needed to figure out what I wanted to do to make money online.

As my viewers started asking me questions, a natural business started to form where I could teach others the knowledge I have on various subjects. I’m so thrilled to be working in this capacity and to help others. I’ve been coaching women for several years as well, and it’s an immensely fulfilling joy to help these woman overcome experiences in their life.

I’m also business consulting for acquisitions/dispositions of real estate and multi-family housing.

Lastly, some of my income – that you’ll see below in the August 2018 income report – also comes from an e-book I wrote about five years ago that helps people overcome rosacea naturally. It’s not generating much income right now since I haven’t been focusing on the marketing very much in the last couple of years. When I first wrote the book, it was generating about $200-$400 per month.

August 2018 Income Report

I’ve completed a breakdown by passive income and active income with totals for each.

Passive Income August 2018 Income Report

  Affiliate Income:

  Advertising:

  • Ad Revenue $245.43

  My Products:

Passive Income Total of $389.79

This is an increase over July by 17.78%.

Active Income August 2018 Income Report

  • Consulting/Coaching – $3,810 which most likely will go down in the future since some of this is coming from contracting for my previous employer.

Total August 2018 Income Report $4,199.79

August 2018 Income Report QB

My bottom line goal is to increase my passive income, month-over-month by approximately 16.25% and I definitely hit that goal this month at 17.78%.

All of the income above is before expenses and taxes and represents my gross revenues.

Top Goals for September 2018

I’ll also make sure to follow-up in the September income report with how I met my goals below:

  • Continue to reach viewers looking for an alternative lifestyle in minimalist living, traveling full-time, learning how to earn income on the road, and growing YouTube subscribers to 5,000+.
  • Learn how to batch produce my videos and blog posts to decrease time in the workflow, but still, maintain the quality of content and videos.
  • Fill in editorial calendar through the end of the year and review new series on nomadic life.
  • Begin the process of outlining a new product for sale to diversify my income.
  • Enjoy the journey, slow down more, and read more. Even with quitting my job I’m still going too fast sometimes, and after over a year of traveling, I’m still learning how to slow down more. I even work on my own business at a frantic pace. I know it’s because I have so much I want to do, but I want to learn the art of slowing down more and enjoying the moment in its entirety. Why do we always need to be “accomplishing” something to feel good? What about just sitting down and reading a book? I used to be an avid reader at several books a week. Now I’m lucky to finish one in a month. Yes, even with traveling and quitting my job. I want to start reading each day again. Take my time to get up in the morning, get my coffee and some breakfast, and sit and read for even 30 minutes each morning.

Please leave me a comment below on how you liked this August 2018 income report. Was something missing or something you’d like to see?

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

Video/Audio/Gear Used for August 2018 Income Report

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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Astoria Oregon Pacific Coast Highway Part 1 / Van Modifications

Astoria Oregon Pacific Coast Highway Part 1 / Van Modifications

My first road trip after a little sabbatical is to Astoria, Oregon on the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway – also known as Highway 101. I am so excited to get back out on the road after a month-long stay in Washington waiting for warranty work to complete.

If you’ll remember about a month ago, I was on the Washington Pacific Coast Highway along the Olympic Peninsula, which is the start of Highway 101 from the north. I’ve driven the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway before – about three years ago – in my car, and that drive was one of the moments that made me start thinking about RVing even more seriously.

I had Lily with me and had to get a hotel to sleep in while I explored the area, but it was hot and I couldn’t leave her at the hotel and couldn’t leave her in the car. I remember thinking, “If only I had my home with me – this trip would be different.” Little did I know then, that three short years later I would be back on the same stretch of the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway with my home.

It’s funny – I didn’t even remember that until I pulled into Astoria.

The manifestation of your dreams can become a reality when you start to focus on what you want to create in your life.

It’s my Create. Do. Live principle.

Dream up what you want during the Create Phase, put it into action during the Do Phase, and the result of your actions is the Live Phase. I’m in the Live Phase of what I’ve created, and it’s pretty sweet!

Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Hymer Aktiv Warranty Work

Warranty on the Hymer was an interesting process – not interesting as in fascinating – but a bit of challenge. I had to call Hymer almost daily to make sure things were moving quickly because the dealership doing the warranty work said it could 2-7 weeks to get repaired since they have to wait on Hymer to approve the warranty and to send the parts.

I love my Hymer, but the warranty process – well – it just plain sucks.

The dealer said the process was pretty good by most RV industry standards. Seriously?

Something needs to change in the RV industry. I realize that supply is at an all-time high with the manufacturers, but they also need to add infrastructure that supports the demand, whether that be hiring more people or creating a more efficient process.

I really want Hymer to succeed in North America, so I hope they listen to all of us who are actively trying to work with them through these processes.

Two items needing repair:

  • Roof vent wouldn’t open due to the hand crank being stripped inside so it wouldn’t crank the roof vent open.
  • Somehow they forgot to add the back awning clip to the van. I’m really not sure how they missed that during the quality control inspection.

Thankfully these were small items that needed repairing and nothing major.

Camper Van Modifications

While we’re on the subject of the camper van fixes, I made two other modifications to the Hymer over the last month.

I finally removed the microwave since I didn’t use it that much. Now I can use that space for storage.

It was relatively simple to remove the microwave by unscrewing the two bolts at the bottom and then pulling the microwave out. I ended up donating it to a thrift store while I was in Bend, Oregon at the Xscapers Convergence.

Next, I needed to fill in the exposed area to the van, so nothing fell back between the wall and the camper van itself.

Time to get creative!

I headed to Lowe’s hardware store and found a piece of peel-and-stick flooring for $1.08 that worked almost flawlessly. Granted it’s not the same color as the backboard, but once I put the storage items in there, you won’t notice it.

The peel-and-stick didn’t stick so well, so I instead used Gorilla Tape to hold it in place. You can see that part of the van has some exposure at the top. I left it there in case I needed access to the area, but the board is there to keep things from falling behind the wall and nothing should drop back there with how I added the flooring strip.

I also left the AC electrical outlet accessible in case I needed it.

Now I need to find a way to hold the storage items up there. I was thinking of a bungee cord hooked into eye hooks, but I think I found a solution with some cargo netting. I could also add a wood lip to the area that would also work. I’m still undecided, so more to come on this.

The other camper van modification I made was to replace the all-weather tires that came with the Hymer Aktiv to the BF Goodrich All Terrain K02 tires. Since I tend to stay in areas that are rocky, can be muddy, gravel, and dirt roads, I wanted a tire that would hold up on these surfaces and also reduce any accidental times of getting stuck again.

While I was in Mount Vernon, Washington area, I contacted Discount Tire to order the tires and have these mounted. They also bought my all-weather tires at $70 a piece, so I didn’t have to deal with trying to sell the old tires after installation of the new AND I don’t have anywhere to store the tires waiting for a buyer.

Hymer with All Weather Tires

Before: Hymer Aktiv with all-weather tires

Hymer with All Terrain Tires

After: Hymer Aktiv with all-terrain

The difference in the tread is incredible and, well, the all-terrain tires are just much cooler! Not only do I get a zillion questions a day about the Hymer Aktiv, but now I get stares and head-bobbing-approval nods from people on the street when they see my tires. It’s pretty funny!

All Weather vs All Terrain Tires

Comparison of all-weather tires (left) and all-terrain tires (right).

All Weather vs All Terrain Tire Comparison

Comparison of all-weather tire tread (left) and all-terrain tires (right).

Cons of All-Terrain Tires

People have said two cons to getting all-terrain tires are:

  • Road noise
  • Reduction in gas efficiency

So far I haven’t heard a difference in road noise, but I have had a decrease in gas efficiency.

With all-weather tires, I was getting about 16-17 mpg on average, and now with the all-terrain tires, I’m getting between 14-15.5 mpg which is about a 10%-15% loss of gas efficiency.

So with most things, there is a trade-off.

In this case, I’m okay with the loss in gas efficiency to ensure that I can travel to those remote boondocking spots without bursting a tire and possibly save myself from getting stuck.

Free 4 Day Mini Course Budgeting

Prevention in Getting Stuck Again

To also ensure I could get out of a jam if I did get stuck, I heeded the advice of a friend and purchased the Maxtrax extraction boards that you can push up next to your tires to gain traction and also dig out the sand around the tire if needed.

These boards are kind of long, so I wasn’t so sure I wanted to even purchase it due to the limited storage in the camper van. However, I felt like I wanted the peace of mind in case I really needed to get unstuck; I could do so without calling a tow truck.

Last time that cost me $300 when I was in Yuma and got stuck in the sand!!

So when I received the Maxtrax boards, I found a convenient spot that was a bonus.

I missed my adjustable bed in my sticks and bricks home where I always slept with my upper torso slightly elevated. Score!

Not only did the spot under the head of the trifold mattress work for storing the Maxtrax boards, but now I have an adjustable bed again. Sweet!

Maxtrax Extraction

 

Maxtrax Extraction under bed

Overall, I love the new tires and can feel a difference in how the Hymer drives on those rougher roads. Now I need to get the Sumo Springs to stabilize the ride a bit more on the rear side of the camper van.

Astoria River Walk and Overnighting on Oregon Pacific Coast Highway

My first day here I overnighted next to the Astoria River Walk on the east side of town at a place I found on the Chamber of Commerce website. There’s a map that shows all kinds of things to do in Astoria, but interestingly also indicates RV overnight parking. I ended up staying over in that street parking area for several nights as I explored the area.

Astoria Oregon Chamber of Commerce Map

So when it was time to stroll along the Astoria river walk, we were really close and just had to walk across a small parking lot.

The Astoria river walk is alongside the Columbia River that pours into the Pacific Ocean and where cyclists, runners, and walkers are enjoying the scenery. Alongside the river walk is the Astoria River Walk Trolley system that takes you all along the river walk from beginning to end.

Astoria Riverwalk

Astoria Oregon Columbia River

Astoria Oregon Old Buildings

There’s shops, restaurants, breweries, and cafes all along the river walk too. Walking along the path and visiting the local eateries you’ll also discover the sound, and maybe a sighting, of the sea lions in the area. If you don’t like noise at all while sleeping, the area I parked is probably not the place for you. You can hear the sea lions, somewhat faintly, but you can hear them.

Lily and I enjoyed a pleasant stroll along the waterfront and people-watched along the way and took in the sights around. I even spotted a sleeping sea lion all by himself around the shore area.

Astoria Oregon Sea Lions

Rising over the Columbia River is the Astoria-Megler bridge that connects Washingon and Oregon. It’s the longest truss bridge in North America at just over four miles long.

Astoria-Megler Bridge

It was such a beautiful day with the sun shining and the cooler temperatures. Thankfully all the forest fire smoke had also cleared out.

We’ve been under siege in the Pacific Northwest for weeks now with the forest fire smoke. It’s just awful, and it’s hard to breathe – not to mention all the ash dust in the camper van.

Astoria Difficult Area to Overnight in for Free

Overall, the Astoria, Oregon area is a tough place to find free overnight camping. There is a Walmart not too far away, but the police regularly patrol it and give out fines. The rest areas show restrictions signs for no overnight parking.

There’s a Safeway in town that has an area for RV parking, and I’ve seen people stay there overnight, but there is also a clearly marked sign stating no overnight parking by City of Astoria ordinance.

Where I parked overnight that was on the Chamber of Commerce map, there are no signs for no overnighting which makes sense considering the Chamber of Commerce has designated that is RV overnight parking.

There’s the Fort Stevens State Park along the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean; however, it’s incredibly full right now, and everyone is packed in like sardines.

Along the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway, there are some recreation areas, but signs clearly marked “no camping” though I saw people camping over there.

Fort Stevens State Park along Oregon Pacific Coast Highway

While I didn’t stay at Fort Stevens State Park overnight, I did make use of this beautiful park during the day.

It’s right off of Highway 101’s Oregon Pacific Coast Highway and overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River.

Astoria Oregon Map

It felt so amazing to breathe in the ocean air and feel that crisp ocean breeze on my skin! This is my happy place! It’s Lily’s happy place too in the sand. I think she loves it as much as I do.

Fort Stevens State Park Pacific Ocean Beach

Fort Stevens State Park Beach

We also stumbled upon this shipwreck on the beach which I later discovered was the Peter Iredale, a four-masted ship that ran aground in 1906 on its way to the Columbia River during a northwest squall that forced the ship into the shore.

Four-masted_ship_PETER_IREDALE_at_anchor,_Washington,_ca_1900_(HESTER_634)

By Wilhelm Hester – Wilhelm Hester Photographs Collection, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49245575

Fort Stevens Peter Iredale Shipwreck

Remains of the Peter Iredale shipwreck

Story Chasing Crew – Insider Crew Access on Patreon

It’s finally here! The Story Chasing Crew insider access page on Patreon where you can decide on what level of insider access you’d like. I took your suggestions and added different reward levels for different pledge access levels. You get to choose how much insider access you want.

So – to make sure I got your requests right and didn’t completely mess this up, I’d love to chat with you all this Saturday, 9/1/18 at 10 am PST on a Live Stream Q&A on YouTube so you can tell me your thoughts on the page and see if I need to make any changes.

This will be my first time doing a Live Stream, so I’m sure I’m going to be nervous – so be gentle with me! I’m so accustomed to talking to the camera and editing, so this is all new to me. I can’t wait to speak with you all this Saturday.

I hope to see you there and get your feedback!

A special thank you to Francine Roach for being the first Patron to subscribe to the Story Chasing Insider Crew page on Patreon!! Thank you!

It’s time to move on and continue down the Oregon Pacific Coast Highway and find our next adventure and hopefully some prettier spots to overnight camp. See you Saturday! This is only part 1 of the Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway journey with more to come soon as I accomplish 3 different quests along Highway 101:

  • Northern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway
  • Central Oregon Pacific Coast Highway
  • Southern Oregon Pacific Coast Highway

All three are different quest drives in the National Geographic 300 Scenic Highways & Byways book.

Related Post/Video All of Oregon Coastline:

Road Trip Report & Map

Take a look at all of the places I’ve been on: Full map of all my travels

Miles: 52

Average Miles per Gallon: 14.35

Road Conditions: No issues, roads are clear.

Weather Conditions: Cool at night and warmer during the day between 65-75 degrees.

Time of Year Visited: Mid August


Overnights & Places Visited

Overnights/Cost: 

  • Designated Chamber of Commerce RV Overnight Street Parking – Astoria, Oregon / $0

Places Visited/Cost:

  • Astoria River Walk / $0
  • Fort Stevens State Park / $30 annual pass
  • Downtown Astoria / $0

RV Accessibility:

  • You can drive through here on the main road in any RV though some streets in downtown Astoria will be tight and even more narrow through the residential streets on the hill.

Cell Phone Signal Strength:  No signal in some areas of Fort Stevens State Park and 4-5 bars everywhere else in Astoria.

Park Pass:  Oregon State annual pass


Video/Audio/Gear Used

Panasonic Lumix G85 Camera – For most still images and vlogging

Sony Action Cam FDRX3000 – For dash cam and walking/talking video

Joby Gorillapod – Used for holding the cameras as a tripod or mounting to just about anything to capture a shot.

Xenvo Iphone Wide Angle (and Macro) Lens – Clips onto your iPhone did give you a wide angle view of your surroundings.

Ulanzi Metal Smart Phone Cold Shoe Mount – Attaches to a selfie stick, but allows you angle the camera and it has a mount for an external microphone.

AllStays app – Use on phone or desktop for finding gas stations, RV parks, campgrounds, propane, and more on your travel route.

Verizon Data Plan – Best nationwide coverage as of this post while traveling.

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